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31 July

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


Anthropo-zoomorphic mask

Anthropo-zoomorphic mask

D'mba shoulder mask, Guinea, Baga, early 20th century, Wood, string, 130 x 68 x 55cm, 43665g, 73.1963.0.924

This mask depicts a woman who, in the eyes of the Baga people of Guinea, represents an ideal of kindness and beauty. The well-groomed hairstyle, the eyelids lowered in respect, the small mouth and the breasts which have nourished children all evoke kindliness, wisdom and generosity. This mask, worn both on the shoulders and on the top of the head, is very heavy. Its dance is extremely grand. When it is brought out, the mask emits its beneficial energy to those who approach it and to the surrounding area, protecting the fertility of women, cultures and animals.