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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Anyi Wooden Sculpture of a Mother and Child
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Anyi Wooden Sculpture of a Mother and Child - PF.4615 (LSO)
Origin: Ivory Coast
Circa: 20th th Century AD
Dimensions: 13" (33.0cm) high x 4.625" (11.7cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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This charming piece sculpture of a seated woman and her child was made by one of the tribes of the Lagoons region of the SE Ivory Coast. The area is particularly known for the high degree of refinement of its sculptures, and this piece is no exception. It depicts a woman seated on a chair – a status symbol for most groups, and a regular theme in Lagoons sculptures – with her child paying across her lap. She is dressed in a long garment that ties beneath her breasts and reaches to her ankles; her neck is marked with a series of bands. The child, whom she is feeding with her left breast, appears to be dressed in a papoose-like arrangement. The head is tall and domed, with a serene, reflective expression accentuated by a smooth brow, almond eyes and pursed lips, with cheeks that render expression beautifully. Her hair is ornate and gathered backwards. She lacks the scarifications that are typical of the Ebrie and the Attye, and this – along with her rounded features – confirms her Anyi identification. The patina is golden/brown rather than black, indicating long usage.

The Lagoons people include about a dozen distinct groups, which are grouped into two main units: the Attye and the Ebrie. The Anyi are exactly intermediate between these “classic” Lagons peoples and their local neighbours, the Baule. Lagoons people are 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 that are rendered as removable plugs, and glossy patinas from usage. This pose is often seen but its significance is not understood. 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 usually adorned with beads, which are often more diagnostic in terms of area of origin than the piece itself.

This is a beautiful piece of Lagoons sculpture.

- (PF.4615 (LSO))


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