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Unidentified Inland Niger Delta artist
8 1/4 x 9 5/8 x 6 3/8 in. (21 x 24.5 x 16.2 cm)
Funds given in memory of Morton D. May and Friends Fund
Mopti region, Mali
: Not On View
This sculpture of a birthing couple is a rare example of a male figure at a birth scene; men historically did not attend women in childbirth. The object belongs to a rich but still largely understudied group of terracotta figures that were created in the Inland Niger Delta region of West Africa between the 9th and 16th centuries.
This region, where the Niger River opens into a series of broad floodplains before continuing its course toward the Gulf of Guinea, was the site of the earliest known cities in sub-Saharan Africa. The cultures that flourished in this region produced highly elaborate and expressive terracotta statuary whose original intent is unclear, but whose emotional narratives continue to resonate.
Davis Gallery, New Orleans, LA, USA
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Davis Gallery 
 An invoice dated November 1, 1983 from Davis Gallery to the Saint Louis Art Museum documents the purchase of this object, listed as "Djenne maternity shrine figure" [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Acquisitions and Loans Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, November 4, 1983.
Journal of the American Medical Association
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