This statue was carved in the style of a biiga doll from the Mossi people of Burkina Faso. Biiga dolls are fertility figures that are passed down from mother to daughter and sister to sister. They wash, dress and carry the dolls on their backs and treat them as if they were living children. This particular figure measures 15 inches tall including base and weighs 1.5 pounds. The piece is in good condition with normal wear and tear throughout – please see photos.
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Some imperfections and general wear and tear.
About the Mossi People
“The various tribes living in Burkina Faso (formerly Upper-Volta), Ghana and Togo cultivate millet and cotton, and rear cattle in the northern savannah regions. Their religious activities are dictated by the rhythm of the seasons – during the dry season in particular, when the fields are fallow, large festivals and ceremonies are organized.
The first Mossi empire was founded during the 15thcentury by invaders from northern Ghana. Today, the Mossi are the largest tribe living in Burkina Faso. They number 2,000,000 and are the only tribe discussed in this chapter who have a centralized governing body, in addition to clans and professional corporations led by elders known as Zaksoba.
Mossi sculptors are famous for their polychrome masks which are worn during funeral ceremonies and to guard crop. These masks – which have a totemic role – are stored carefully when not worn and are given libations in exchange for help in everyday Mossi life.”
Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.
About the Biiga Figure
The biiga figure is a fertility doll that is passed on from mother to daughter and from sister to sister. The child will wash, dress and carry the doll on her back as if it were a real child. If the doll is damaged, the biiga is taken to the local diviner for attention. This figure is carved without legs or arms but has accentuated breasts which are a symbol of motherhood.