Additional Information: Scarification on face, breasts, arms, belly. White pigments around the mother's eyes are echoed on the child's eyes. She is seated on an Akan stool. This sitting figure of a woman with child on her hands comes from a shrine some where among the Baule of Ivory Coast. Remains of dust and obvious wear indicates long use and substantial age for this wooden figure. Classically carved figures such as this mother and child among the Baule are known generally as waka sran, meaning a 'person of wood'. Some maternity sculptures were owned by diviners known as Komien, who could tell the future, cure illnesses as well as solving local community problems. The figure embodies a number of symbolic elements as shrine figure; she is a ’mother’ and for the diviner she is a place of residence for the spirit of the bush to reside ready to be called upon by the diviner. Advised by the bush spirit (asye usu) the diviner will determine the reason that a woman is barren and direct her as to what she must do bear children. It is the energy and power of the bush spirits that create and give life that are contacted by the diviner and directed to the woman. This well carved figure exhibits typical Baule concern with the aesthetics of the presentation of the beauty of the women and child. Her hair is carefully combed and modeled and scarification on her chest, abdomen, neck and face show her as a mature and prominent woman of her village. The child on her back is charmingly portrayed with one foot higher than the other. This is an interesting sculpture and will stand out in a collection.
Further reading:P. L. Ravenhill: Baule Statuary Art: Meaning and Modernization, Institute for the Study of Human Issues, Working Paper 5 (Philadelphia, 1980)S. M. Vogel: Beauty in the Eyes of the Baule: Aesthetics and Cultural Values, Institute for the Study of Human Issues, Working Paper 6 (Philadelphia,1980)S. M. Vogel, Baule, African Art, Western Eyes. 1999
I have examined this piece and agree with the description.
Niangi Batulukisi, PhD.