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Lot 99: Large Carved Wooden African Mumuye Figure
27 October 2016
Louisville, CO, USALive Auction
Africa, Nigeria, ca. early 20th century CE. A well-carved hardwood Mumuye ancestral figure known as an "iagalagana," with characteristically short, powerful legs supporting an elongated torso with pronounced breasts and an "outie" navel, and impressively long arms ending in large, pantomime-like hands, the arms carved so as to separate from the torso and follow the curve of the natural wood in an elegant motion to the front of the figure. The figure dons a traditional, helmet style coiffure that frames her small face and extended neck. A very strong Mumeye figure carved to make the most of positive and negative space with skillfully executed openwork between the body and arms and a dramatically crested coiffure. Although the Mumuye reveal great respect for their ancestors, this statuary is not intended to portray ancestors, but rather embody tutelary spirits. Such figures reinforce the prestige and status of the owner who, while holding the figure in his hands, has a meaningful dialogue to ensure protection. Black square base. Size: figure measures 5.75" W x 28.125" H (14.6 cm x 71.4 cm); 29.125" H (74 cm) on stand
Mumuye figures are used by diviners and healers to both diagnose and provide cures for illnesses and misfortunes. The figures have also traditionally been used to greet the rainmaker's clients, serve as their owner's confidant, protect and guard the home, and be present during trials between opposing parties. While these figures may serve a variety of functions, they are rarely used for two or more purposes simultaneously.
Provenance: Ex-Pearson Collection, Denver, CO, Ex Arte Primitivo, NYC
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Condition Report: Age cracks, inactive insect holes and damage to peripheries as shown. Surface abrasions and losses - in particular to coiffure/helmet, back of torso and legs, arched region above breasts, hips, crotch, knees, and feet.