Senufo Tyepka Maternity Figure, Côte d'Ivoire #751

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  • Senufo Tyepka Maternity Figure, Côte d'Ivoire #751
  • A Senufo Maternity Figure, from the Region Boundiali, Village Nafoun, sitting on a four legged stool, short legs leading to prominent buttocks, wearing a loincloth, a slender torso decorated with incised patterns scarification marks made of lines, wearing bracelets around the upper arms and wrists, rounded shoulders with long arms holding a child in front of her abdomen, notched back line, a long, cylindrical neck supporting an elongated head with...the large hemispherical ears projecting outwardly, further scarification marks on the face, the head capped by a crested hairstyle
  • Measurements: 49 cm; 19" height
  • Condition: Fair, light brown patina with traces of age and Ritual Use.
  • Provenance Mohamed Belo Garba, Korhogo, Côte d'Ivoire.
  • This figural representation depicts a Mother Nursing an Infant. The Sculpture is used to Honor Women and their Maternal Role in Ceremonies and Festivals of the Tyekpa Society, a Social Association among the Senufo People. The delicate Infant strains at his Mother's breast intently focused on its vital nourishment, while his Mother remains stoic, steadying the baby in her left arm. The head of the Mother is rendered in a rather expressionistic fashion, with pronounced mouth, large eyes, and crest-like coiffure. Her slit eyes suggest a sense of introspection and serenity as she fulfills her Maternal Obligations. The Mother's face is further adorned with fine linear incising on the temples, marks that are analogous to those made on Senufo Women after having reached puberty. 
  • The Tyekpa Association functions in Senufo culture primarily as a Funerary Society. This Sculpture is but one element of complex Funerary Celebrations that also include music, song, and dance. These elements come together to pay homage to and honor the memory of an Elder Tyekpa "Mother." During the Ceremonies, Tyekpa Members dance with various figurative sculptures such as this Mother-Child Pairing raised high above their head. Due to its prominent visual display in the Funerary Proceedings, Tyekpa figurative sculptures can sometimes be large, some measuring three to four feet in height; this piece is 19" - nearly two feet tall.
  • The Senufo People form a complex network comprising more than 30 subgroups with many local variations of language and custom. They occupy a large area of West Africa that spans the national boundaries of Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, and Burkina Faso. Senufo Society is Patriarchal; inheritance, however, is traced through the Matrilineal Line. Consequently, the primacy placed on women and their essential Maternal Role is often reflected in Senufo artistic traditions like this Sculpture. The Tyekpa Association is part of a larger social organization among the Senufo known as Sandogo. Membership in Sandogo is limited to Female Members of the Senufo Community. Senufo Life revolves around the Sandogo Society and its counterpart, the all-male Poro Society. These institutions cut across kinship lines and household ties, creating a social cohesiveness that extends throughout the Community.
  • Related Lit.: Burkhard Gottschalk: Senufo. Massa und die Statuen des Poro, Düsseldorf 2002; Kat. Ausst. Die Kunst der Senufo: Elfenbeinküste. Mit einem Beitrag von Till Förster, Staatliche Museen der Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Museum für Völkerkunde Berlin, 16.11.1990 - 24.2.1991, Berlin 1990; Die Kunst der Senufo, Museum Rietberg Zürich, aus Schweizer Sammlung, Zürich 1988; Homberger Lorenz: Künstler in Werkstätten der Senufo. In: Afrikanische Meister. Kunst der Elfenbeinküste, Zurüch 2014, p. 151-178; Wolfgang Jaenicke: Maternities West African Art.