The Bijogo peoples live on the Bissagos Islands, located off the coast of Guinea-Bissau. Figures such as this, known as iran, had a sacred role in their traditional society. The sculpture was considered a receptacle for the soul of a deceased person, and surviving family members offered sacrifices to it to appease its spirit. Sitting upright on a stool, which may indicate high status, the figure displays the posture, elongated torso and short legs that typify this class of sculpture. Its broad shoulders draw attention to the large head and strong facial features.