By Carla Herling
Drake University (formerly University of Iowa)

Ghana; Fante peoples

Female figure with twins


46.4 cm (18 1/4”)

Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.442

This fired clay figure from Fante peoples in Ghana was used at the funeral of a woman who fulfilled her role as wife and mother and who had probably borne twins, represented here on her knees. Used at her funeral, at the moment when her soul passes into the world of the ancestors, it represents both death and new life. Such figures were displayed at the memorial service, long after the corpse had been interred. Following this passage in life, the memorial figures were placed in a clearing in the forest called the “field of pots.”