Reintegration / Ancestors

By Monica Demott
(formerly University of Iowa)

Guinea-BissauBidyogo peoples

Ancestor figures

Wood

H. 53.3 and 50.2 cm (21" and 19 3/4")

Indiana University Art Museum, 74.55.1, 2

Only respected elders become ancestors, and even when the deceased is a respected elder, it is earned gradually. It may take months or years for the spirit to reach the rank of an ancestor. These less naturalistic ancestor figures from Bidyogo peoples include high-prestige top hats obtained in trade from Europeans.  The bodies have been abstracted into simple shapes placed on stools of honor.