Igbo Female Figure Presenting Breasts Nigeria
This marvelously carved and old figure comes from the Igbo people.
Though eroded by time and termites this sculpture reflects the skills of the Igbo artist in creating images capable of speaking to us over time and distance.
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.¬†¬†¬†
Approximate Age: Mid 20th Century