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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Lagooons Area (Attye or Anyi) Sculpture of a Standing Woman
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Lagooons Area (Attye or Anyi) Sculpture of a Standing Woman - DC.339
Origin: Ivory Coast
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 44" (111.8cm) high
Collection: African Art
Medium: wood

Location: United States
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This beautifully-rendered carving of a standing female has been identified as having been made by one of the tribes from the Lagoons area of the Ivory Coast, most probably the Anyi or Attye people. It is a supremely elegant example of the genre, with a long, graceful body, slender limbs and a very tall neck supporting a uniquely “Lagoons” head. This is specifically characterised by a flat face with incised eyes painted with white pigment to give a somewhat staring expression, thin, arched brows and a long nose with a small, pursed mouth. The whole is surmounted with an elaborate multi-crested coiffure which also retains various pigments in the grooves. The additional detailing on the beck and head is exquisite, including delicate incisions and the rendering of geometric (diamond-shaped) lozenges in red/white/blue pigment down the length of the neck. The figure is dressed in a series of necklaces and belts made of fibre and trade beads, and is well-patinated through use and age. Its large size argues for a centralised rather than private/domestic social role

The Lagoons people include about a dozen distinct groups, which are grouped into two main units; the Attye and the Ebrie. They are not usually confused with the Anyi, who are more influenced by local neighbours such as the Baule. Lagoons groups consider themselves to be distinct from one another except in cases of threat, when they combine. Their social structure is based upon a gerontocracy. Artistically, they are defined by carvings of astonishing refinement, with exceptionally serene expressions and attenuated proportions. They usually have highly ornate hairstyles, keloid scarifications – rendered as removable plugs – and glossy patinas from usage. The figures were used by spiritual intermediaries to obtain information from the hereafter. There are also reports of highly gendered figures being used as spirit spouses, as in the Baule tradition. They are also said to have been display pieces at traditional dances, or awarded to excellent dancers and performers. They are sometimes adorned with beads, which are often more diagnostic in terms of area of origin than the piece itself.

This is an exceptionally refined and charming piece of African art.

- (DC.339)


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