Mumuye figure

Africa | Nigeria

Mumuye figure

Nigeria

Iagalagana ritual figure

Early 20th century
Carved wood and pigments
Height: 99.5 cm – 39 ¼ in.

Provenance
Ex collection Hélène Leloup Kamer, Paris
Ex collection Austin Newton, Princeton, Etats-Unis,
Acquired from the above in the early 1970s

Published: FAB Paris, 2023
Leloup Mumuye figure 99.5 cm / Galerie Flak Price on request
"From concept to motion there is no hesitation. (The carver) has found an extraordinary harmony between movement, use of space, articulations, (...) all the acclivities are soaring. It is almost an architectural process."
Jacques Kerchache, Portrait, Quai Branly Museum, Paris, 2003

The Mumuye live in the foothills of the Shebshi Mountains near the banks of the Benue in eastern Nigeria. They used sculptures called Iagalagana in different rituals: the figures played a central role in ancestor worship and in curing ceremonies. Statues acted as intermediaries with the spirit world, contributing to bolster the status of the family that owned them.
The discovery in North-Eastern Nigeria of Mumuye statuary at the time of the « Biafra War » (1967-1970) came as a real shock. Out of the blue, a fascinatingly modern and inventive art became known to the Western public.
Mumuye sculptures are strikingly reminiscent of the works of major 20th century artists like Henry Moore or Alberto Giacometti.

Video

Discoveries Series 2020 : Mumuye

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