Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Nyamwezi Mwana Hiti Standing Female |Tanzania | African Art

AvailabilityIn stock
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Type of Object Carving, Figure, Statue, Sculpture
Country of Origin Tanzania
People Nyamwezi
Materials Wood
Approximate Age 20th century
Height (in) 18 (on base)
Width (in) 5.25 (with base)
Depth (in) 5.25 (with base)
Dimensions Figure: 16.5 H, 4.5 W, 5 D
Overall Condition Fair to good. 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 Multiple cracks throughout, arrested bug damage on her head, see photos for details.

Additional Information:

The mwana hiti appeared as a freestanding figure or image incorporated in objects used in ceremonies and on other important occasions that marked the lives of the Zaramo and neighbouring peoples. Depending on the context, the mwana hiti carried sacred, status, magical, or religious properties founded on the authority of the ancestors.

The term Mwana Hiti loosely means "child made of wood", and refers to iconic figures that depict a highly stylized female torso. The figures are commonly referred to as "dolls" but they are anything but dolls as they play significant roles in the spiritual lives of a wide range of ethnic groups in Tanzania. They are almost exclusively used by female initiates during seclusion and coming out ceremonies. Smaller ones are often worn as amulets by women wishing to enhance their fertility. The figures are also found on thrones, stools and staffs of the region and often times represent ancestors and are depicted in pairs.