African art > Dolls > Mossi doll
Fertility figure Biga Mossi (N° 15039)
This schematic anthropomorphic figure, whose head appearance varies by region, represents a spirit with which a relationship is established. The tubular bust is endowed with sagging breasts, an attribute of fertility and evocation of motherhood. The angular, stylized head evokes the crest hairstyle of the young girls, the engraved motifs drawn on the wood the tegumentary ornaments. Smooth, sained skate.
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The Upper Volta, Burkina Faso since independence, is composed of descendants of the invaders, horsemen from Ghana in the 15th century, named Nakomse , and Tengabibisi , descendants of the natives. Political power is in the hands of the Nakomsé, who assert their power through the statues, while priests and religious leaders come from the Tengabisi, who use masks during their ceremonies. Animists, the Mossi venerate a creative god named Wendé . Each individual would be endowed with a soul, sigha , linked to a totem icne.
The use of dolls by young African women is not done exclusively within the initiation context. When menstruation occurs, the girl is considered a potential mother. In many ethnic groups, the search for fertility is then done through rituals. Wooden figures will then be carved, some reflecting both genres, in many cases covered with pearls and clothing. During the period of confinement, the doll, which becomes a child who asks to be fed, washed and anointed on a daily basis, becomes the girl's only companion. After initiation, they will be carried behind the women's backs, or tied to their necks. The wooden dolls ( biiga), carved in their spare time by the blacksmiths of Burkina Faso, are offered to girls, as well as boys, by their parents. The Mossi the wealthiest, buy plastic dolls. In case the girl does not give birth, a larger doll is sculpted to treat her as a real newborn. The doll will not be abandoned after the birth of the child, the mother will continue to take care of it. If the birth has not taken place, the doll will be offered as an educational toy to a child. (Elizabeth L.Cameron)
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