Liminality / Mourning

By Monica Demott
(formerly University of Iowa)

Nigeria; Idoma artist
Seated female figure (Anjenu?), late 19th to early 20th century
92.08  x 31.75  x 34.29 cm (36 1/4  x 12 1/2  x 13 1/2 in)
Wood, fiber
University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection of African Art, X1986.587

At the funeral, a symbolic object or a representation of the deceased may stand in for the cadaver. Igala peoples in Nigeria practice a form of embalming so that the corpse can be present at the funeral (Sieber 1987: 130).  This Idoma female figure is seated on a stool that indicates rank and may have been placed next to the deceased at a funeral. Among many peoples, the figure may be dressed in the clothing of the deceased, or the portrait may consist of nothing more than the deceased’s clothing arranged in a sort of rack or hanger.