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African Art

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Artwork Details


Tiv Artist, Nigeria


Late nineteenth to early twentieth century


Wood and pigment

Accession #



30 inches



Tiv sculptors carve female figures called Atsuku, which terminate in heavy wooden posts. Although styles vary from abstract to naturalistic, these figures are distinguished by a ridged coiffure, protruding breasts, and rounded thighs; the hips may be embellished with horizontal linear patterns, suggesting waist beads or other forms of adornment. Decorative scarification patterns emphasize the breasts and abdomen, and the navel may be ringed with incised concentric designs and horizontal and vertical linear patterns. Incisions on the face near the lips and cheeks may also denote traditional scarification patterns. These figures were used in many different contexts, for hunting and circumcision rituals, in ancestral contexts, and in pre-marriage rites.


Fred and Rita Richman Collection

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