Bobo Maternity Figure
Country: Burkina Faso.
Date: end of the 19th or early 20th century.
Size: 29 cm (11½ in).
Provenance: ex collection Alex Bernand, Paris.
Gallery Fernandez Leventhal, New York.
Extra: this female figure is an exceptionally and powerful example of ancient Burkina Faso art. The beautiful use- and aging patina immediately catches the eye. Although this old and rare maternity figure was long thought to be Mossi recent studies would rather point to a Bobo origin.
The Bobo (or Bobo-Fing) peoples have lived in western Burkina Faso and Mali for centuries and are a Mande-ethnic group. The Bobo number about 110.000 people, with the great majority in Burkina Faso.. The major community in the south is Bobo'-Dioulasso, the second largest city of Burkina Faso and the old French colonial capital. They are best known for their masks which are worn with fanciful outfits for celebrations. The Bobo are an agricultural society. They dedicate themselves to restoring and maintaining nature's balance (which humans disturb) via sacrifices and ceremonies. Wuro is the name of their primary god of who maintains order in the land.
Figures like this one are believed to possess associations with fertility rites and divination ceremonies.
Photo credit: © Jean Godecharle.
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