Figure (kgöngwana-tshingwana/Ngwana sehô)

Figure (kgöngwana-tshingwana/Ngwana sehô)


Wood, glass beads, cloth, thread, and copper alloy

Overall: 25.4 cm (10 in.)

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2010.208

Did you know?

These figures were symbolic infants that recently married women would take care of until their first child was born.


Fertility figures like these were used during the initiation ceremonies of pubescent girls. Integrating talismanic materials in their fabrication, the figures were meant to guarantee fertility and prevent or cure barrenness--a gourd’s womblike shape and the seeds within symbolize fecundity. They are sometimes also called "child figures" because a young bride would care for them as she would for her future children, carrying them on her back and sleeping with them until her first child was born. [Constantine Petridis Cleveland Museum of Art, (4/16/11-2/26/12); "The Art of Daily Life: Portable Objects from Southeast Africa"]

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