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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
 
 
 
MUMUYE
Nigeria
Male Figure
20th century
Wood

44 3/4 x 9 x 8 3/4 inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of The Brown Foundation, Inc.

Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, & the Americas

Arts of Africa
 
ABOUT

The Mumuye of northeastern Nigeria are an elusive people who created unique works of art. This abstract statue, characterized by undulating arms, long torso, and stylized legs, creates a sense of lyrical rhythm and movement. Examples the size and quality of this male figure, or iagalagana, are extremely rare.
 
Living in an area difficult to access, the Mumuye were first known to the French in 1892 but remained isolated until 1950. Mumuye statues were invoked in divination and healing rituals, for the mediation of disputes, and to bring rain. They were kept in shrines by important people of the village such as healers and rainmakers, who communicated with them. Made of perishable wood, figures like this one are highly sought-after. Comparable works of art are found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Beyeler Museum in Basel, Switzerland.