DescriptionMalinke/Mandinka or Bamana (Probably Mali or Côte d'Ivoire, Western Africa)
Height: 20-1/4 inches
Maternity figures are important objects for many people in Africa. These figures often represent a female ancestor or deity who helped found the ethnic group. Often depicted with a child on her lap or back, the mother is viewed as a nourishing and nurturing figure. These figures are found in communal shrines and used during initiations where young men are symbolically reborn as adults.
Maternity figures were produced by the vast majority of wood-carving cultures in Africa, indicating the universal view of a woman's primary role as that of giving birth and nurturing the young.
This figure shows clear influence of the neighboring Senufo people. The high crested hairstyle, the narrow face with pointed chin, and the shape of the torso are based on Senufo prototypes. This figure is seated on a four legged stool and holds a small child in her lap. The face is refined with delicate features and small indications of scarification along her cheeks, temple, and chin. The resulting sculpture possesses a considerable and subtle appeal to the Western eye as an art object.
There are a signs of wear on the piece including a few cracks particularly on the back and torso. The feet of the child have also been damaged.
Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000.
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