Janus Figure

Janus Figure

late 1800s-early 1900s

Wood

Overall: 30.8 x 7.9 x 7.3 cm (12 1/8 x 3 1/8 x 2 7/8 in.)

René and Odette Delenne Collection, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2010.458

Fun Fact

The opposite faces refer to a dualistic philosophy, a threshold between past and future.

Description

This Janus figure features opposing faces and symbolizes change and transformation. A cavity in the top of the head served to hold ingredients with magical and medicinal qualities. The figure played a pivotal role in cults dedicated to the ancestors; in exchange for prayers, libations, and offerings, the ancestors were asked to safeguard the well-being and fertility of the population.

See also
Collection: 
African Art
Department: 
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Wood
Medium: 
Wood

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