Mother and child figure

Accession Number

Mother and child figure


Artist Nationality
Yombe (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1890

Medium & Support
wood, brass tacks, and mirror fragments

15 3/8 in x 5 5/8 in x 4 5/16 in (39.1 cm x 14.3 cm x 11 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Candis and Helmut Stern

Subject matter
This maternity figure, an idealized Kongo archetype of historical feminine beauty, represents the mythical mother. Her headdress, scarifications and filed teeth show that she is a woman of high social status, and the figure may have played a commemorative role, to remember an important female ancestor whose descendants make up the royal or chiefly line. This theory is further supported by the inclusion of mirror fragments as eyes, as reflective surfaces are reminiscent of water, a link to the ancestral realm of the Kongo peoples. 

Physical Description
Female figure with crossed legs, breastfeeding a child. The large mother figure is decorated with scarifications on her breasts, shoulders and back. She bears filed teeth, is wearing an elaborate headdress and her face has been decorated with three brass tacks. Mirror fragments were used to evoke eyes. On the back of the sculpture a mirror covers a raised addition containing unknown elements. The figures are seated on a rectangular base with geometric decorations. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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commemorative sculpture

& Author Notes

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