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Nyamwezi Female Figure Stand Tanzania African Art

Product #: 92238
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Title Nyamwezi Female Figure Stand Tanzania African Art
Type of Object Carving, figure
Country of Origin Tanzania
People Nyamwezi Luguru,
Materials Wood,aluminum
Approximate Age Second Half 20th century
Dimensions 32 inches H.
Overall Condition poor. Some of our beads have traveled at least three continents, and have graced numerous owners. Small chips, corrosion, and pitting are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.
Damage/Repair broken base with split and large chip, large cracks in head, body to the back, and in base, broken arm repaired with glue, chips

Additional Information: A standing female figure with metal beads in eyes, aluminum decoration in neck and torso, and belly. The figure wears metal anklets !  As for many figures from Tanzania, this figure is difficult to identify with a particular ethnic group. Its morphologic details link it to the Nyamwezi or Luguru. Its use and function are unclear. 
It could have been used in connection with the spirit of ancestors. This is an interesting and good example of Tanzanian sculptures that would be of good addition in any collection. Tanzanian tribal art is less researched and published than Western and Central art. There are still superb pieces coming out of rural areas.

The Luguru people live in the Uluguru mountain. They are approximately 300.000 people. They are farmers and a matrilineal society. Female initiation is among the most important rites de passage that secure the change of status from child to womanhood. Figures such as this have religious functions within the society. 

It is known that before the invasion of Islam and Christianity traditional Nyamwezi worshiped the ancestors. Today a few groups of  Nyamwezi  become Muslim and some other Christians.The Nyamwezi are the largest ethnic group in central Tanzania where they share close ties with the neighboring Sukuma people.  According to oral traditions they settled in west central Tanzania where they presently live sometime during the 1600s.  Called “people of the moon” by their neighbors in Tanzania The Nyamwezi lived in large settlements and later in a number of kingdoms but today live in small dispersed settlements. The Nyamwezi are known for their carving that is at best not embellished, roughly executed and relatively sparsely described in the literature of East African art. They produce numerous expressive masks, elegant figures and interesting puppets. These carvings represent  nature spirits,  ancestors or prominent local people are used in various ritual ceremonies. 


Recommended Reading: The best resource on Tanzanian art is Marc Felix's MWANA HITI.

I have examined this piece and agree with the description

Niangi Batulukisi, Ph.D.