24 1/2 in. x 10 1/2 in. x 9 in. (62.23 cm x 26.67 cm x 22.86 cm)
Bryn Mawr College
82-24 (Neufeld Collection Number)
32 (Sotheby's Lot Number)
Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Ritual Objects
Yoruba, Nigerian, West African, African
The sculptural theme of mother and child is common among the Yoruba. This sculpture may represent the sacrifices a mother makes to maintain the health of her child, or perhaps her joy at its ability to thrive.
The figure's red color may be a metaphor for life force, while the green color may represent serenity and composure. The mother's kneeling pose indicates worship and devotion, and her grasping of her own breasts suggests both fertility and protection. In contrast to the finished figure of the mother, the carving of the infant is intentionally rough; because the child has not yet undergone rites of passage, his status in Yoruba society is that of an immature or unfinished being.
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- Refers to permanent marks, such as symbols, patterns, or other designs, made on human skin by scarring, done for social or cultural reasons or for personal decoration.
- Styles and cultures from the region comprising the westernmost area of the African continent, defined by the United Nations as including the modern nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.