Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
three-quarter view from the left
side view from the left
detail: three-quarter view of mother's face
detail: three-quarter view of child
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Yoruba, Mother-and-Child Figure, Late 19th century, wood and traces of indigo, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Alice Pratt Brown Museum fund, 91.238
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Place: Nigeria, Ekiti region
Begin date: 1866
End date: 1900
Technique: wood and traces of indigo
Medium: wood and traces of indigo
Support: wood and traces of indigo
Dimensions: 17 1/2 x 5 x 8 inches 44.4 x 12.7 x 20.3 cm [overall]
Description: Altar figure, probably representing the devotee of a religious cult commissioned as a "thanks" offering to the cult god for a favor or for a service rendered. The bowl in the woman's hand would have been used to receive regular offerings, probably a single kola nut. The image of a woman holding a bowl is known as an "Olumeye" (One who knows honor). Women are often associated with cups, as they are bearers of children. Yoruba art stresses naturalism. In this example it combines strong forms with a sensitive humanism. The echoing volumes are most clearly seen from the side where the zigzag of both the mother and child's legs can be seen. There is a delightful contrast between the intent, thoughtful expression of the mother and the inquisitive distracted face of the child, who looks off in another direction. The master carver of this piece was very sparing in including decorative details such as facial scarification and jewelry, preferring simplicity of statement instead. His hand, first seen in this piece, is distinguished by the use of flat triangular eyes and a pronounced inverted v-notch in the center of the lips.
Title: Mother-and-Child Figure
Credit Line: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston 91.238
Accession No.: 91.238
Accession Method: PURCHASE
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