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Two terracotta Anyi 'Mma' effigies

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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: Pre 1900: item # 1123154

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michael cichon tribal arts
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Bradenton, FL 34281
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Two terracotta Anyi 'Mma' effigies
Heavily-potted, solid, fired clay figures, such as these two examples, were made as portraits of deceased royal family members - kings and queen-mothers (seated figure, here) as well as members of their courts (standing figure, here). This type of figure ranges in age from the early 18th C. through the early 20th C. CE, when increasing pressure from colonial missionaries and officers ceased production. Many western Akan (Anyi) region terracottas are thought to be physical likenesses of those whom they portray, and are often referred to as "'photos' of the dead." (Soppelsa, R.T., "A Mma in the Metropolitan Museum of Art," African Arts, Vol.XXIII, #3, p.77). The seated figure, probably male, and the greatly foreshortened, standing male(?)figure each share a highly similar style with distinctive features, making it likely they were created by the same hand for inclusion in an outdoor tableaux representing an historical court. Dimensions for the seated figure are 11"H x 5.75"W, and the standing figure at 10"H x 5.25"W. Each figure has been broken at various times over the years, suffering some losses and showing a thick, encrusted, grayish patina over some of the breaks, helping to indicate the oldest fractures. Each has had poorly executed, old repairs to the base areas using a reddish, putty-like material but, in general, these two examples are in very good condition considering their age and manner in which they functioned. Provenance: Bart family collection, NYC and FL, circa 1950's or 1960's. Quite rare.


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