This elegant terracotta head is a memorial portrait (nsodie) of an Akan nobleman from the part of Africa which is today southern Ghana and southeastern Côte d'Ivoire. It is an idealised representation whose serene, joyful expression and well-balanced features suggest the positive qualities. Created posthumously, effigies like this one were placed alongside the portraits of rulers in sacred areas. At certain times of the year, the asensie was the focus of prayers, libations, and other offerings that ensured the continuing support and protection of the ancestors.
Sculptures associated with this tradition, which dates to at least the seventeenth century, were produced in a number of regional styles.
In much of Africa, clay/terracotta is an artistic medium primarily associated with women. European visitors to this region in the mid-nineteenth century documented a related Akan tradition of life size funerary sculpture crafted by female artists. Although earlier accounts did not identify the makers of these smaller memorial heads, it is probable that they were created by female sculptors as well.
Much of the above information is taken from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, who I would like to credit.
Our Hear is presented on a simple custom metal display stand. The overall height including the stand is 21 cm/ 8 1/4 inches.
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