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Image of Maternity Figure

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Bookmark: http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/objects-1/info/145849



unknown Yoruba
Yoruba Primary



Maternity Figure

Late 19th century - early 20th century
Wood with pigment

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
Accession Number: 99.5.8
Other Number(s): 82-24 (Neufeld Collection Number)
32 (Sotheby's Lot Number)
Geography: Africa, Nigeria
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Ritual Objects
Culture/Nationality: Yoruba, Nigerian, West African, African
Collection: Neufeld Collection
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.

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:
  • African - Refers to the cultures of the continent of Africa, which is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • children - People in the earliest developmental stage of life.
  • maternity - State of being a mother; also the qualities belonging to or associated with being a mother or being pregnant.
  • mothers - Women who have children, either biologically or by adoption.
  • Nigerian
  • scarifications - 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.
  • West African - 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.
  • Yoruba

Additional Images Click an image to view a larger version
Additional Image 99.5.8_BMC_f_2.jpg
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Additional Image 99.5.8_BMC_f.jpg
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Additional Image 99.5.8_BMC_pl_2.jpg
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Additional Image 99.5.8_BMC_pl.jpg
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Additional Image 99.5.8_BMC_pr.jpg
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Additional Image 99.5.8_BMC_r.jpg
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Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
  • Exhibiting Africa: Ways of Seeing, Knowing, and Showing Bryn Mawr College , Jan 25, 2017 – Mar 5, 2017
  • Worlds to Discover: 125 Years of Collections at Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr College , Sep 24, 2010 – May 28, 2011
  • African Images, Western Imageries: Collecting and Recollecting African Bryn Mawr College , Sep 26, 1999 – Jun 15, 2000
  • African and Pacific Art from the Neufeld Collection Bryn Mawr College , Apr 28, 1993 – Jun 1, 1993

Provenance History
  • Owner Name: Sotheby's Parke-Bernet Inc. (Anonymous Seller) Lot 166
    Role: Seller
    Place: New York, New York
    Ownership End Date: November 4, 1981
    Remarks: Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., New York, "Pre-Columbian, American Indian, African Art and Oceanic Art, Egyptian, Classical, Western Asiatic, Islamic Art, and Later Works of Art", 4 November 1981. Lot 166. Bought by ? $440


  • Owner Name: Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953
    Role: Donor
    Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US
    Ownership End Date: 7/18/1991


Bibliography List
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Marianne Hansen and Emily Croll. Worlds to Discover. Bryn Mawr College. Bryn Mawr, PA, 2010
    Page Number: 32
  • Melanie Sonnenborn, "BMC African Art Collections Lack Only for Space." The College News 13, no. 5 (December 5, 1991): 1.
  • Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., "Sotheby Parke Bernet Auction." Sale Number 4721Y (November 4, 1981): New York, New York. Figure Number: 166.

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0108906.
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0106140.
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0108857.

Related Bibliography List
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Stefan Eisenhofer, ed. Kulte, Künstler, Könige in Afrika: Tradition und Moderne in Südnigeria (Linz, Austria: des Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseums, 1977), 309-313. Figure Number: 11.44

Portfolio List Click a portfolio name to view all the objects in that portfolio
This object is a member of the following portfolios:

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=BMC>cite web |url=http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/objects-1/info/145849 |title=Maternity Figure |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=5/17/2022 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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