Title: Birthing Couple
Date: c.1200
Artist: Unidentified Inland Niger Delta artist
Medium: terracotta
8 1/4 x 9 5/8 x 6 3/8 in. (21 x 24.5 x 16.2 cm)
Credit Line: Funds given in memory of Morton D. May and Friends Fund
Object Number: 1668:1983
(not assigned):
Place associated: Mopti region, Mali
Current Location: 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.

- 1983
Davis Gallery, New Orleans, LA, USA

1983 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Davis Gallery [1]

[1] 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.
Publication History
Title: The Cover
Periodical Title: Journal of the American Medical Association
Edition: March 27
Year Published: 1996
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