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Maternity Figure—Cibola Cult


Artwork Details

Maternity Figure—Cibola Cult
carved wood
8 1/4 in x 2 1/16 in x 1 3/4 in (21 cm x 5.2 cm x 4.5 cm);8 1/4 in x 2 1/16 in x 1 3/4 in (21 cm x 5.2 cm x 4.5 cm)
Gift of Robert B. Jacobs

On Display

Not currently on display


Lua make statuary (PFINGU) for a variety of purposes, including hunting, fertility, divination and protection. The statue's purpose is known only to the owner. The elaborate surface relief designs that represent body scarification are typical features.
On the advice of a diviner, a woman having childbearing problems in Lulua society will commission a wood carver to carve a figurative sculpture. When a woman follows the prescribed rituals, the object is believed to ensure that she will be fertile and that the spirit of the deceased child will return to the mother’s womb to be reborn. The bodily scars and elaborate coiffure are signs of high moral standing, physical beauty, and adult status. Her swollen stomach and exaggerated buttocks allude to her pregnant, fertile state.

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