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Bidjogo Bissago Islands Shrine Figure African Art

Product #: 92237
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Title Bidjogo/Bissago Islands Shrine Figure, African
Type of Object Carving
Country of Origin Bissagos islands of Guinea Bissau
People Bidjogo?
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age second half 20th century
Dimensions 11.5 inches H. x 4 inches W.
Overall Condition Poor. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners. Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use. We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair large cracks in places, chips, stains

Additional Information: 

An interesting caving depicting a half figure without arms and legs, with a cylindric torso and square base. This challenging piece is tentatively identified with the Bidjogo (or Bissago) based upon its form and its timeless surface. 

If truly  Bidjogo, this figure  would be classed  in the type of figures  known as "Iran" . They are memorial figure that serve as intermediaries between the living and the ancestor worlds. They were placed on a shrine as a point of contact with the ancestors. Such figures would  receive offerings and often would have libations poured over them. Iran figures were used during divination practices and protected their owners from witchcraft and illnesses. 

The Bidjogo live on islands off of the coast of Guinea in West Africa and they have a vibrant masking and sculpture tradition.The predominant force in Bidjogo ceremonial life surrounds the initiation of young men and the veneration of ancestors. Unlike most cultures, who have recognized sculptors who supply the community with ritual art, Bidjogo families often carve their own masks and statues. This has allowed an art to emerge that, needless to say, only loosely follows any stylized norms. This can make attributions difficult, and as a result there are many pieces which have been linked to their neighbors the Baga. Not that there are no justifiably famous forms found among Bidjogo masks, with masterpieces depicting the bush cow and the sawfish, but the general rule is that there are few rules. Most masks represent animals found locally which have totemic significance, and most statuary honors ancestors.