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    Description

    A Fon Seated Female Figure, Benin
    last half, 20th century

    wood, pigment

    Many carved figures from the Fon people are made of joined elements, as seen here: stool, lower legs, thighs and arms are all separate pieces, neatly attached. Hairstyle, fat-ringed neck that indicates wealth, beauty and health, and the stool show influence from Akan peoples to the west, all fused with Fon naturalism, as is often the case with Fon carved figures.

    This figure is probably a representation of "Mami Wata" (Mother Water) whose pidgin English name may indicate the overseas origin of her cult, since pidgin English arose to facilitate trade with foreigners. The Mami Wata cult is found in the Americas, the Caribbean and in African countries that have coastlines on the Atlantic Ocean. It displays both Christian and Muslim elements, along with some Hindu features grafted onto indigenous African water spirit cults. Images of Mami Wata are usually of beautiful young women, sometimes holding snakes or shown as mermaids.

    Mami Wata can bring material wealth and help in matters of fertility, impotence and infant mortality, but she is seductive in terms of promised wealth and pleasure and dangerous because she demands substantial sacrifice, possibly symbolized by the position of the hands of this figure, whose shoes and stool denote her high social status.

    The complex painted surface of the figure, with underlying red and brown pigments and a lighter, slightly worn surface indicate use.

    Height: 14 ¾ inches overall


    Estimate: $700 - $1,000.

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    6th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 537

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