Yombe Mother-and-child figure

Type: Mother and Child
Exhibits: Cycle of Life
Tribes: Yombe peoples
Location: western Democratic Republic of Congo
Period: 20th Century
Materials: Wood

The Yombe are artistically prolific. This superb sculpture besides showing her typical Yombe traits, also protecting her two babies lying on her lap sucking while two other are close to her from both sides. Images of women with several children celebrate multiple successive births, and a desirable condition of sustained female fertility – are symbol of fecundity and women's social power as producers and reproducers (Cole 1989:81). This figure is richly equipped to indicate her high rank status, such as the scarifications, the adornments, but though female in her appearance, she is supplied with male attributes, of Muslim influence: a cape 'ngunda', the principal emblem of the male leaders (African Art, 1998:237, pl.147) and the 'korte' a necklace of flat coral beads, amulets containing verses of the Koran that protect from evil (Leloup, Dogon sculptures,1998:164). To present her screaming (famine, distress, death?) the typical pose of the lifted head with the open mouth is used, but the scream is so hard, that her tongue is visible, especially the gesture of the two children closing their ears.

Yombe Mother-and-child figure
Yombe Mother-and-child figure
Yombe Mother-and-child figure
Yombe Mother-and-child figure