Attié female figure

Ivory Coast

Attye (Akye)
Lagoon peoples

Carved wood
Late 19th or early 20th century
Height: 16½ in. (42 cm)

Ex collection Alain Lecomte, Paris, France
Ex collection Adrian Schlag, Brussels, Belgium
Ex private collection, Paris, France
Published: « La région Lagunaire », 2016, p.16

Price: sold

Western Africa
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Twelve peoples living in the Lagoon region in southeast Côte d’Ivoire have divination statues like this one, whose role is to pass on messages from supernatural beings to the living. As stated by Alain-Michel Boyer (Arts of Africa and Oceania. Highlights from the Musée Barbier-Mueller, 2007: p. 151), these divination figures are called “nkpasopi” (nkpa means statuette and sopi is a woman’s name).
Symbolizing feminity, these statues were used in fecundity rituals. They are also used by soothsayers and healers to cure sickness and convey messages to the spirit world.

This 16 ½ in. tall figure depicts a standing female figure with delicate face features, a refined coiffure and sensuous curves reflecting the ideal of feminine beauty.
The bulbous arms and legs, serene face and stunning body proportions common to the Attye show definite Baule influence, but are more daring in their execution, with exaggerated volumes. The prominent, elevated scarification marks between the eyebrows and along the neck are unique to the Attye,
The fascinating juxtaposition of negative and positive space are evidenced in this rare female standing figure. The breast and navel arms echo the angles of the buttocks and calves while the elongated hands and feet convey a strong sense of dynamism to the sculpture. The facial features are intensely expressive and delicate. The composition of the figure illustrate how Lagoon statuary constantly reinvents its treatment of the human body.