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15 September

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


Manasa, the goddess of snakes

Manasa, the goddess of snakes

Manasa the goddess of snakes, India, Assam, mid-20th century, wood, clay plaster, paper, sapwood, coloured vegetable marrow, pigments, dim.: Height 89cm, Width 60cm, Gift of Gabrielle Bertrand, 71.1956.45.98-98bis-99

The goddess, in her different forms, both protective and destructive, is worshipped throughout India. In areas where snakes are particularly abundant, the majority of families have an alter devoted to Manasa, goddess of snakes, in their house. If Manasa is worshipped well, she is kind; if she is neglected or if her offerings are lacking, the people strongly believe that a member of their family will die from a snake bite.