African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mambila statue
Tadep Mambila statue (N° 20001)
As if mastering a powerful internal energy, the shoulders and arms of this statue are concentrated around a small bust widening towards the abdomen. The legs end in thick feet, digitized towards the center. Huge oncave orbits underlined by tenons occupy most of the face. At the top, a crusty prominence, an aggregate of ritual elements. Thick matte patina cracked, highlights of kaolin and red ochre.
Despite their small numbers, the thirty thousand Mambila (or Mambilla, Mambere, Nor, Torbi, Lagubi, Tagbo, Tongbo, Bang, Ble, Juli, Bea)(the "men", in Fulani), settled in the northwest of Cameroon, have created a large number of masks and statues easily identifiable by their heart-shaped faces. Although the Mambila believe in a creator god named Chang or Nama, they worship only their ancestors. Their chiefs were buried in granaries like wheat because they were thought to symbolize prosperity. Masks and statues were not to be seen by women.
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Made according to the same canons, these statues supposed to embody the ancestors frequently have small studs on the head as a headdress, such as this two-colored anthropomorphic figure. A cavity pierced on the abdomen probably contained therapeutic or magical ingredients. The head is classically tucked into the shoulders, the posture unusual, hands brought towards the chest. The massive crenellated legs reproduce the angular volume of the abdomen.
Abraded matte patina, kaolin residue. Desiccation cracks.
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