Sakalava Artist (Madagascar)
Late nineteenth to early twentieth century
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Fred and Rita Richman Collection
These two sculptures were carved as commemorative portraits. As was common all across sub-Saharan Africa for centuries, sculptors memorialized eminent men and women with figurative sculptures. The subjects of commemorative portraits are often idealized and their figures are carved according to local aesthetic formulations to reflect fundamental cultural values. The heads of both of these figures are disproportionately large to give prominence to their intellect. Both wear circular coiffures. The male figure's raised right hand probably once held a weapon and the woman's left hand likely touched her cheek. Though their surfaces are heavily worn, both sculptures capture the essence of the individuals represented, suggestive of their formidable personalities.
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