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

Cup bearer

Cup bearer

Cup bearer, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luba, 19th century, Wood, 35 x 16 x 23cm, 700g, 70.2004.36.2

Female figures bearing cups play an intermediary role during consultations with the spirits. For the Luba people, who attribute a fundamental role to divination, the female body is the natural receptacle of the spiritual world. White clay, a magical ingredient which enabled contact with the spirit world, was placed in the cup. The medium would address the small statuette during healing rituals or when making important decisions for the community.