|Title||Igbo Maternity Cross River Nigeria African Art 27 Inch on Base|
|Type of Object||Sculpture|
|Country of Origin||Nigeria|
|People||Igala/Idoma, Cross Rivers Region|
|Materials||wood, pigment, cotton cloth|
|Approximate Age||Mid 20th century|
|Dimensions||27 inches x 7.5 inches W. x 6.75 inches W.|
|Overall Condition||Fair. 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||Softening of surface possible evidence of long use; old insect damage arrested, cracks and chips in several places, a few cracks with indigenous repair, scrapes, cracks and chips in feet, scratches, cracks in other places|
Additional Information: The Igbo figures of mother and child are very rare. This one can be stylistically placed among one of the differing but related peoples in West African region. This interesting sculpture shares a number of stylistic elements with a number of the small groups living in Northern Nigeria in the region of the confluence of the Niger and Benue Rivers. This is an area of mixed art and influences and shared sculptural styles as documented by Sieber where he notes an Idoma carver observing Igala sculptors at work and subsequently carving for both Igbo, Igala and Idoma patrons. (Sieber 1961:9) This wonderful maternity figure shows sculptural sources close to theIgbo people.
Compromising one of the largest ethnic groupings in Nigeria the Igbo are well known for their sculptural tradition and vibrant masking performances. Living north of the Niger River their art has an extended history reaching back at least 14 hundred years to the wonderful bronzes found at Igbo Ukwu demonstrating a sculpture tradition that extends to the present. Igbo art is diverse in its many forms, materials, and use and is broken into a number of sub-styles based upon history and their physical environment. Much of their art is open to public view where the Igbo are reminded of their ancestors and of the various spirits of the Igbo pantheon of gods. Their complex belief system includes a number of deities known as alusi, who represent abstract forces of nature as well as physical places such as rivers.
The alusi symbolize principles of good and evil as well as ancestors and culture heroes who insure the well being of the family and village. They are given form as sculpted human figures and kept in cult shrines where they are ritually addressed and given offerings to insure their good will to insure that crops grow, babies are born and people will conduct themselves in a moral and socially appropriate manner. On the cult day dedicated to them the figures will be repainted and in some instances clothed by women as they celebrate the spirit and given offerings to insure their good will to insure that crops grow, babies are born and people will conduct themselves in a moral and socially appropriate manner. There are a number of sub-styles of Igbo carving and it is often difficult to determine which village was the place of origin for this figure.
Recommended Reading: Cole, H.M. and C. C. Aniankor,’ Igbo Arts, Community and Cosmos. 1984.
Sieber, Roy. Sculpture of Northern Nigeria, 1961.
Sieber, R. and Tony Vevers. Interaction: the art styles of the Benue River and East Nigeria. 1974.
I have examined this piece and agree with the description
Niangi Batulukisi, PhD.