Photographs © Tim Hamill
Usually representing spirits, ancestors or the primordial couple, these figures were placed in shrines and treated with great respect. Through a wide range of style, scale, belief and function the couples depicted share a timeless, serene equality necessary to the continuity of their societies. Traditionally, most of the couples are two freestanding figures, conceived as a unit, and posed frontally, symmetrically, in formal postures and of equal size.
Sculpted as stools and headrests, the male and female figures serve as symbolic supports, or as handles when worked into the design of bowls. Couples also appear as decorative elements on African doors.
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