Female figure

Toma peoples
19th–20th century


Object Place: Guinea

Dimensions

10 1/2 in. h x 4.75 in. w x 3.75 in. d

Accession Number

1996.378

Medium or Technique

Stone, cloth

Not On View

Collections

Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art

Classifications

Sculpture

This is a rare example of stone figurative sculpture from the Toma people, who inhabit the border region of Guinea and Liberia, where they are called Loma. It is identified as Toma primarily by the simplified face, of which the flat ovoid plane, short nose, slit eyes, and ridged brow appear on Toma wooden masks. While these latter are common to the Poro men’s society, figurative sculpture was privately owned and associated with divination or protection against sorcery. Alternatively, this statue may derive from the practice of neighboring Kissi and others, who unearthed small steatite human images while farming and look on them as ancient reminders of their forefathers.

Provenance

July 8, 1985, sold by Michael Oliver Inc. Ethnographic Art, New York, to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1996, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA; 2014, acquired fully with the bequest of William Teel to the MFA. (Accession Dates: December 18, 1996 and February 26, 2014)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel