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Mother-and-Child Figure

Mother-and-Child Figure



Overall: 63.6 cm (25 1/16 in.)

James Albert and Mary Gardiner Ford Memorial Fund 1961.198


The name Senufo covers a complex network of more than 30 different language and dialect groups. The male Poro society and its female counterpart, Tyekpa, constitute the main contexts for art production and use. Among the Fodonon Senufo subgroup, mother-and-child figures play a role in funerary ceremonies organized by the Tyekpa association in which they are carried on the participating women’s heads. However, among the Central Senufo, similar female figures are used as stationary display sculpture for the male Poro society. In the context of the Poro and its female counterpart, mother-and-child figures probably refer to "Ancient Mother," the central deity of the Poro initiation cycle. She is responsible for the protection and instruction of the initiates, her "children," nursing them with the milk of knowledge and thus transforming them into perfect human beings.

See also
African Art
African Art
Type of artwork: 

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