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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Yoruba Wooden Polychrome Shrine Figural Group
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Yoruba Wooden Polychrome Shrine Figural Group - PF.5397
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 19th th Century AD to 20th th Century AD
Dimensions: 28.5" (72.4cm) high
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: Great Britain
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Occupying a compact space, this complex group of figures is dominated by a large seated female who has her legs outstretched on a thick horizontal plinth. Her head is quite large, having a conical shaped striated coiffure, bulging eyes, and facial scarification in the form of three black slashes on both cheeks. Her rather small breasts are connected by a type of halter around the neck and joined by a horizontal crossbar just above the nipples. A naked child is cradled on her knees, its left hand placed on its stomach just as the mother supports her baby’s head. Another infant rides on the woman’s back with only its head exposed turned left. Four other children are depicted standing on the base joined together as if forming a chain, while two lion-like beasts are used as armrests for the mother. Traces of different colored paint can still be seen. Such figural groups as this one are placed in shrines to petition ancestors for children. The elaborate nature of this sculpture suggests the petitioner was someone of wealth who could afford the finest sculptor available. - (PF.5397)


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