Lot: 160

Anthropomorphic figure "iagalagana"

Nigeria, Mumuye

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Alexander S. Thomas III, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Kathy van der Pas & Steven van de Raadt, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Patrik Fröhlich, Zurich, Switzerland
Serge Schoffel, Brussels, Belgium
Adrian Schlag, Brussels, Belgium
H: 28.7 inch 2500 EUR / 5000 EUR

wood, kaolin, fragmentary (insect caused damage), rep. (left arm), base At the end of 1968, the first Mumuye works appeared in France. Especially their "iagalagana" figures, which show a high degree of abstraction, represented a sensation on the art market. The fascination that emanates from them has been preserved to this day. In the meantime it is known that the figures are to be understood less as representations of personified ancestors, but rather as the embodiment of superior guardian spirits. They were kept in huts which were often located in the centre of the village and which belonged to a person with an important function, i. e., a religious leader, a healer, a blacksmith, a rainmaker or a master of thunder or, more generally, a custodian of a cult seeking to preserve or restore balance in the society and among individuals. Depending on the function of the owner, the figures were used in a variety of ways. It seems these statues underlined the status and prestige of the wearer, helped the sick, predicted the future, attracted rainfall, or made it thunder. They also had a judicial role in a given family by confounding liars and thieves. The most important task of the characters was to watch over the family estate and protect the residents, as well as all guests who were granted access.


Paris, France: "Parcours des Mondes", 12-17 September 2017 (Serge Schoffel)