feminity, fertility

In non-western cultures, female effigies often incarnate ancestors.

In connection with the spirit world, of which they are guardians, they also represent goddess-mothers or goddesses who can be wild, protective, bearers of wisdom, noble or hieratic, graceful or sensual, and which are usually symbols of fertility.

With regard to the portrayal of motherhood, a recurring theme in African art, this refers to the idea of continuing the family or clan lineage, and to the transmission of knowledge.

  • Hooks

  • Anthropomorphic sculpture

  • Commemorative effigy

  • Ceremonial cloth

  • A Maam man attacking a pregnant woman

  • Statuette depicting a mother and her child

  • Statuette depicting the goddess Kankalinmata

  • Manasa, the goddess of snakes

  • Anthropomorphic mask

  • Anthropo-zoomorphic mask

  • Motherhood

  • Motherhood

  • Helmet mask

  • Female statuette

  • Cup bearer

  • Shadow puppet, Sita under her tree

  • Ritual doll

  • Chalchiuhtlicue

  • Anthropomorphic statuette: motherhood

  • Hunchback female figurine

  • Female figurine

Anthropomorphic mask

Anthropomorphic mask

Satimbe mask, Mali, Dogon, early 20th century, Silk cotton wood, pigments, plant fibres, 138 x 33.5 x 21.5cm, 3118g, Dakar-Djibouti mission, 71.1931.74.1948

In Africa, masks are always worn by men. Women are in general not permitted to approach the masks. For the Dogon people of Mali, only old women can dance with the masks. She is considered to be the sister of the masks and it is her who is portrayed in the figure on top of the mask.