A BIDJOGO IRAN ANCESTOR FIGURE

Provenance: Philip Goldman, London

The Bidjogo figures are called "iran"; the Bidjogo use this word for everything they consider sacred. The sculptures are the personifications of the ancestor deities, "ounika", and are placed in special shrines that are put up in the huts. These shrines are usually veiled so that the figures cannot be seen.
The figures are usually associated with fertility and high crop yields. They regularly receive offerings, as evidenced by the heavily encrusted surface of the present figure.
The "iran" figures have various styles, varying from naturalistic to abstract.

Guinea-Bissau, Bissagos Islands, West Africa
Wood, Early 20th Century

 

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