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Fante Seated Maternity with Three Infants Ghana African Art

Product #: 102118
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Title Fante Seated Maternity with Three Infants Ghana African Art
Type of Object Statue, carving
Country of Origin Ghana
People Fante
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions 19.25 inches tall x 5.75 inches wide x 5.5 inches deep
Overall Condition Fair to 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 base chipped and broken. cracks, scraped pigments. dirt and general wear

Additional Information: This seated figure of a woman nursing twin children with one on her back, comes from a Akan group of Ivory Coast and Ghana; it is most likely a work from the Fante. Her eyes in almond-shape and her protruding mouth as well as the hairstyle, and ringed neck are likely of the Fante even though these details can also be found among the Asante and the Baule.

The theme of maternity goes along with the Fante ideas of fecundity and the continuity of the matrilineage among the Fante. Symbolically, the female figure represents the queen mother which is vouched to perpetuate the matrilineage clan. Such figures were kept in family shrines dedicated to divinities devoted to the fertility and fecundity.  In Fante culture,  naturalistically carved figures representing either a spirit of a local shrine, an ancestor of a matrilineage or the ‘Queen Mother’ of a local chiefdom are often shown seated in local shrines indicating their rank, prestige and royal presence.

 Among the Baule such figures 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.  prominent woman of her village.

The figure illustrated here is a strong sculpture and would be well placed in a collection.

Recommended Reading:

Mato, D. ‘Aspects: Akan Cultures in Ghana’. 2001.

Cole, H.M. & Ross, D. H. ‘The Arts of Ghana’. 1978.

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. 1997.