H. 40 cm
Djenne-Jeno Maternity Figure, Inland Niger Delta, Mali
H. 25 3/4 in
- Hélène and Philippe Leloup, Paris
- Private collection
- Bernard de Grunne, Djenne - Jeno - 1000 Years of Terracotta Statuary in Mali, Mercatorfonds, Brussels, 2014.
The Djenné-Djeno civilization is one of the oldest in Africa (700-1700 AD) and one of the most refined. It finds its origins in a vast area prone to flooding from the Niger River and the Bani, its tributary, in the centre of the Inner Niger Delta. In Africa, there are only two civilizations that are equivalent both in terms of their temporality and the varieties of their art, those of the Nok, Ife and Benin.
The themes of Djenné-Djeno art are mainly centred on both male and female representation and zoomorphic sculpture, while there are relatively few maternities within the corpus.
This important maternity shows a woman kneeling, her legs bent under the buttocks, breastfeeding her child whom she holds in her left arm, both protective and tender, sitting on her thigh. Her head is slightly thrown forward and the very elongated right arm gives elegance to the whole. She wears bracelets, a necklace with 3 rows of round beads, a wide belt and a loincloth with herringbone.