Fertility Figure

Fertility Figure

1800s-1900s

Wood, glass beads, fiber

Overall: 25.4 cm (10 in.)

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2010.208

Fun Fact

These figures were symbolic infants that recently married women would take care of until their first child was born.

Description

Fertility figures like these were used during the initiation ceremonies of pubescent girls. Integrating talismanic materials in their fabrication, the figures were meant to guarantee fertility and prevent or cure barrenness--a gourd’s womblike shape and the seeds within symbolize fecundity. They are sometimes also called "child figures" because a young bride would care for them as she would for her future children, carrying them on her back and sleeping with them until her first child was born. [Constantine Petridis Cleveland Museum of Art, (4/16/11-2/26/12); "The Art of Daily Life: Portable Objects from Southeast Africa"]

See also
Collection: 
African Art
Department: 
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Textile

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Is something not working on this page? Please email help.website@clevelandart.org.

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar.