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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Toma : Toma Wooden Sculpture of a Woman
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Toma Wooden Sculpture of a Woman - PF.4813
Origin: Northern Liberia
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 42" (106.7cm) high x 13.25" (33.7cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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As an image of an idealized person, the ancestral statue embodies the most desirable qualities an individual can possess, defined within the context of a particular tribe's standard of beauty. The Toma statues have certain characteristics in common with each other, such as a sunken oval face, solid stance and bold presence. Variations do occur in details added to or subtracted from an established form. This powerful statue has a lovely three sectioned coiffure of braided hair, scarification on the cheeks and body, and a series of coils on the neck (which may represent ornamental jewelry). The elongated breasts and extenuated stomach suggest fertility, and it is within this theme the statue was meant to be viewed and understood. As an archetype of motherhood, an ancestral sculpture immediately communicates an ideal to prospective mothers-- of courage, determination, and an indomitable spirit against all odds. The closely set eyes and exposed teeth further emphasize this stalwart attitude. African sculpture differs from Western secular art in its use as a role model for life and living. However, we can immediately relate to the purpose of this fantastic statue, and appreciate how it moves us to feel emotions that lie deep within us all. - (PF.4813)


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