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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Dan Wooden Sculpture of a Woman Wearing a Skirt
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Dan Wooden Sculpture of a Woman Wearing a Skirt - PF.4616a
Origin: Liberia/Ivory Coast
Circa: 20th th Century AD
Dimensions: 26" (66.0cm) high
Collection: African
Medium: Wood and Textile
Condition: Fine

Location: United States
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The statues of the Dan are distinguished by their powerful presence and refined carving; and also by the fact that they do not represent ancestors or spirits as do most African statues. A Dan male, in order to increase his prestige, might commission a “portrait” of one of his favorite wives. They are called lu ma, or “human being of wood.” Their purpose, other than as physical representations, is not known; though it is assumed they are associated with the spiritual power of fertility.

This statue is very intense in its posture, firmly rooted to the mother earth, unwavering and confidant. She is the archetype of female virtues African women admire—moral stamina, sexual allurement, maternal capability, and physical strength. Her very beautiful scarification on her body, particularly the breasts, and the elegant coiffure suggest she is someone from an important household. The addition of the loincloth makes her seem even more realistic and further encourages the belief that she represents a real person. In any case, she is a noble figure, standing proud for the women of her tribe with dignity, grace, and an air of mystery.
- (PF.4616a)


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