Friday, 30 January 2009
10.11.08 Last of the badly modelled replicas Mbari (2)
The woman on top of the chamber is the protector or figure that keeps watch for enemies coming towards the Mbari (with leopard or lioness her messenger). The woman is made not to resemble one of the community facially on purpose, as otherwise it is said that that person would die.
Sacred cow – belongs to the community, but here belongs to Ala, the spirit/goddess of this Mbari.
Having seen how figures can be modeled out of cement at the University of Nigeria, these figures look as if they were made by self-taught artists, which of course would have been the case in the villages where Mbari were made. The importance and essence of the figures was in the symbolism and what they represented, rather than the formal qualities of the modeling which must be remembered when looking at them. This is probably where our two sensibilities clash between East and West - food for thought!