Photographs © Tim Hamill
ATTIE, MATERNITY FIGURE 1, 26.5", $600, SOLD
The Attie are one of the Lagoons people and are southern neighbors of the Baule. Attie figures are, like those of the Baule, among the most elegant and designed pieces in Africa. Many show careful execution of face, coiffure and scarification details, with refined forms but no loss of expressiveness and power. The quiet, dignified figures embody spirits from the other world. They functioned as the home of a spirit to whom sacrifices were made and had to be placated with care. Figures were the abode of spirits associated with diviners. In ritual performances the spirit would come out to possess the diviner, causing a trance. The display of the figures would enhance and support the ensuing dance.
The distinctive style of the Attie includes more bulbous limbs, with a ryhthm of bulges and constrictions. The heads and eyes are large and scarification is often imitated by small wood pegs.
Exhibiting a wide diversity in size, symbolism, intimacy and style., African maternity figures depict the ideals of beauty, fertility, character and action and many signify much more, whether the primordial mother or a legendary founding ancestor. Commonly used as shrine figures, they were often objects of petitions or prayers for fertility and successful births. The prevelance of the maternity theme testifies to the importance of women and children to the continuity of each people.
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