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Unknown Maker
Seated Female and Child Seated Female and Child
20th century 20th century

This imposing sculpture of a mother and child depicts an exceptional woman. Called gwandusu, a word that suggests attributes such as hot, soul, passion and courage, the woman¿s strength of character is emphasized by her dignified posture and serene facial features. She is seated on a stool, a mark of importance. Her significance is further reinforced by her conical cap, which is similar to that owned by hunters or sorcerers, powerful men in Bamana communities.

Bamana blacksmiths carve gwandusu for Jo, an initiation association, and for Gwan, a related society dedicated to helping women with fertility concerns. The subject of mother and child is particularly relevant for those seeking assistance from Gwan. At Gwan¿s annual celebration, women with fertility issues help to prepare the sculpture for display, make sacrifices to Gwan, and promise to dedicate future children to the society.

Gwandusu is always accompanied by a seated male companion and often by male and female attendants. As an ensemble, they reinforce ideas of continuity and community. The Lang gwandusu departs from more typical examples because the woman¿s head is turned to the side, rather than facing forward. Scholars are uncertain about this gesture¿s meaning, but one interpretation suggests it heightens the interaction among the sculptures. A similar gesture can be seen in a Gwan figure of a standing male in the Lang collection (M84-083).

 
Unknown Maker
Bamana peoples Bamana peoples
Seated Female and Child Seated Female and Child
20th century 20th century
wood wood
height / width / depth: 80.00 x 19.50 x 17.00 cm; 31.50 x 7.68 x 6.69 in.
Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984 Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984
M84-003

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