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.


Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Artist
Mumuye peoples
Title
Male Figure, Iagalagana
iagalagana
Date
1900–1999
Medium
Wood
Dimensions
44 3/4 × 9 × 8 3/4 in. (113.7 × 22.9 × 22.2 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by The Brown Foundation, Inc.

Current Location
The Caroline Wiess Law Building
203M STERLING GALLERIES
Accession Number
2006.266
Classification
Sculpture
Provenance

El, Hadj Mama, Founban, Cameroon, 1960s; collected in Cameroon by Charles Davis; [Davis Gallery, New Orleans]; purchased by MFAH, 2006.