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, Cameroon, Work attributed to Kwayep, c.1912, wood, 61 x 24.9 x 35.3cm, 2623g, 71.1934.171.607

The portrayal of women, and in particular of queens, is common in the art of the north west of Cameroon. This statuette pays homage to the wife of king N'Jiké who gave birth to his first son. The sculpture was commissioned by the Bamileke sovereign around 1912, to commemorate this event. By fathering a male heir, he could ascend the throne. The mother is extremely natural with her infant, something which is rarely seen in the statuary of this region.