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Yoruba Female Lifting Breasts Nigeria African Art 22 Inch

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Title Yoruba Female Lifting Breasts Nigeria African Art 22 Inch
Type of Object Carving, figure
Country of Origin Nigeria
People Yoruba
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age Mid/second half 20 th century
Dimensions 22 inches H. x 8 inches W.
Overall Condition Poor
Damage/Repair large cracks in head and neck, and in base, cracks in encrustation, chips , broken feet leaving a large chips in feet.

Additional Information: A seated female figure highly-stylized facial features, lifting her breasts. Among the Yoruba lifting breasts is a gesture of greeting, offering, acceptance (see William Fagg, John Holcombe 3rd, YORUBA SCULPTURE OF WEST AFRICA, p.84). Such figures were places on shrines to honor the ancestors. The figure holding her prominent breasts is related to the deity guarantor for fertility or fecundity. This well-carved female figure. adorned with rituel red powder, could be considered a traditional representation of a typical religious devotee found on many shrines among the Yoruba of central and southern Nigeria. Placed in a shrine she could be a devotee of either Eshu or Shango, major deities in the Yoruba pantheon.

The Yoruba are the largest culture in Nigeria and one of the largest in all of Africa. The scope of their political influence is immense both nationally and in the parts of Nigeria that they occupy. They can be traced back hundreds of years--perhaps even a thousand. Though heavily exploited during the Slave Trade periods, they have steadfastly held onto an enormous and multi-layered set of beliefs and rituals that can still be found today. Almost all of these practices involved some sort of statuary or mask, so the amount of their artistic output is enormous.

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)

I have examined this piece and agree with the description.
Niangi Batulukisi, Ph.D.