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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.4581
Origin: Northern Liberia
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 45.25" (114.9cm) high x 13" (33.0cm) wide
Catalogue: V24
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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In seeing and understanding African statuary, it is necessary to accept a basic principle—that the sculptors who made them were not trying to impress the viewer aesthetically, but intended simply to bring forth from raw material a religious object. This premise correlates to much of early Medieval art of Western Europe. In both cases, the inspiration to create a sacred object often resulted in a work of great beauty.

The image the sculptor draws from wood, brass or stone becomes the very embodiment of an ethereal spirit or dead ancestor, with whom the living wished to communicate for the general good of a village. This phenomenal statue is a fertility figure intended to encourage conception in young girls through the intercession of a spirit. She is designed to impress the impressionable girls with attributes they hope to emulate: beauty in the form of ritual scarification, confidence, and strength in motherhood. These admired virtues would be constantly reinforced every time a girl saw the figure, and she would also be aware of the spirit contained within, watching over her as a type of guardian. In the hands of a highly skilled Toma sculptuor, the spirit realm comes alive in the material world in the form of a benevolent guidance and profound understanding to assist young girls in the most important period of their lives.
- (PF.4581)


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