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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Makonde : Makonde Wooden Sculpture of a Woman
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Makonde Wooden Sculpture of a Woman - PF.4804
Origin: Tanzania, Mozambique
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 36.5" (92.7cm) high x 5.5" (14.0cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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According to Makonde legend, the first man on earth fell asleep after sculpting a female figure out of wood. He awoke to find the statue had become a real woman who was eager to mate with him. The result was many children, and the woman herself became the ancestress of the Makonde. This accounts for the predominance of female representations in their art. This remarkably powerful statue is most likely an ancestor figure, intended to bring good fortune to a village. Her elongated breasts indicate a woman of a venerable age, and the elaborate scarification also suggests she is someone of importance. She may have been created as an effigy to frighten away evil spirits. The fact she carries a hoe relates her to the fertility of crops and a bountiful harvest. The Makonde believe ancestors return to earth to celebrate the successful completion of initiation by the new generation of young adults. Her vivid expression can be seen as one of joy, while watching her people with pride and satisfaction. - (PF.4804)


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