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



Motherhood, Ivory Coast, Work attributed to Zlan c.1930, Wood, aluminium, plant fibres, pigments, 63.5 x 20.3 x 16.6cm, 1385g, 73.1963.0.163

A standing female figure with her child on her back, this statuette was created with great care: the scarifications which decorate the body, the headdress made of plant fibres, the details, such as the sandaled feet, are all evidence of the sculptor Zlan’s meticulous work. The exact use of this artefact is not known. It is most likely the portrayal of the wife of a chief.