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Highlights: African Art

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Image of Memorial Head (Mma)

Asante Peoples

Memorial Head (Mma)

20th century

Object Type: Sculpture
6 3/8 in. x 3 1/8 in. x 2 1/2 in. (16.19 cm x 7.94 cm x 6.35 cm)
Medium and Support: Terracotta
Accession Number: 2013.0017.0003

Credit Line: Gift of Dileep and Martha Mehta

Currently On View

For centuries, Asante and other Akan-speaking peoples of Ghana and Ivory Coast have made figurative ceramic sculptures to celebrate the dead. Female potters continue to fashion life-size portraits of chiefs and queen mothers, as well as smaller figures that are similar to this fragment to represent the royal retinue.
The Asante consider some of their ceramic figures to be portraits, but the art does not conform to western notions of realism. Instead, individuals are identified by emblems of rank and status, specific hairstyles, and scarification. Some Akan ceramic figures represent deities rather than ancestors.

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