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Yoruba Kneeling Bowl Bearer Statue Nigeria African Art

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Product #: 100079
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Title Yoruba Kneeling Bowl Bearer Statue Nigeria Africa
Type of Object Shrine Sculpture
Country of Origin Nigeria
People Yoruba
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age 20th Century
Dimensions 19.5 inches tall z 6.5 inches wide x 9.5 inches deep
Overall Condition fair
Damage/Repair broken base (statue still stands securely). left arm broken and repaired as shown. some arrested bug damage holes. scrapes, cracks, dirt


Additional Information: A well-carved kneeling female figure holding a child on her back and a bowl in her hands The bowl is supported by two stylized legs. This figure comes from the Yoruba where such figures are considered a classically traditional representation of a religious devotee found on many shrines among the Yoruba of central and southern Nigeria. This is an old piece with obvious traces of long use. It would stand well in any collection. 


Placed in a shrine such a figure  could be a devotee of either Eshu or Shango, both major deities in the Yoruba pantheon. Offerings would be made to her leading to the bowl held by the figure. The mother and child could have had a more public role appearing during festivals and religious ceremonies as Lawal(1996) reports similar figures being carried in a large bowl by a priestess who dances in a trance to celebrate the river goddess Yemoja who has the power to bestow children upon her devotees.


Among the Yoruba of Nigeria sculpture in service to ritual and religion is integral to life whether used during divination or masks worn or figural sculptures that are found in shrines or carried during ceremonies. There is a large corpus of Yoruba sculpture known and identified as to symbol and meaning identified to the various orishas or deities. Yoruba traditional religion has a structured pantheon of the deities known as Orisha numbering between 400 and 700 individual Yoruba gods that may share powers and attributes that are articulated in sculptural form.


Recommended Reading:


R. F. Thompson: Black Gods and Kings: Yoruba Art at UCLA, (Los Angeles, 1971)


W. Fagg and J. Pemberton III: Yoruba Sculpture of West Africa, (New York, 1982)


H. J. Drewal and J. Pemberton III, with R. Abiodun Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, (New York, 1989)


Lawal, B.: The Gelede Spectacle. Art, Gender, and Social Harmony in an African Culture. (Seattle, London 1996)


Witte, H.: A Closer Look; Local Styles in the Yoruba Art Collection of the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal. 2004.