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Mma Anyi funerary head

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1000664Mma Anyi funerary headThese funerary figures, called mma, represent portraits of ancestors. Mma Anyi funerary headThese funerary figures, called mma, represent portraits of ancestors. Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition_portrait/public/multimedia/2008.4.221_c.jpg?itok=DJQcvaAJLe Havre Museum of Natural History – Photo credit : C. Livonnen
13282000Mma Anyi funerary headThe Anyi people used to craft stylistic terracotta portraits upon the death of their notables.Mma Anyi funerary headThe Anyi people used to craft stylistic terracotta portraits upon the death of their notables.Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/2008.4.221_d.jpg?itok=HZopB2AILe Havre Museum of Natural History – Photo credit : C. Livonnen
13282000Mma Anyi funerary headThese figures were believed to hold the spirit of the departed person.Mma Anyi funerary headThese figures were believed to hold the spirit of the departed person.Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/2008.4.221_e.jpg?itok=ZfYKl3oQLe Havre Museum of Natural History – Photo credit : C. Livonnen

Mma funerary head

 

  • Origin : Ghana or South-East Ivory Coast

  • Ethnic group : Anyi

  • Materials : terracotta

  • Dimensions : 24 cm x 12 cm x 10 cm
  • Inventory number : 2008.4.221
  • Acquisition mode : unknown

This terracotta figure depicting a notable was found in the remains of the Museum, after the September 1944 bombings.

These funerary figures, called mma, represent portraits of ancestors. Upon a notable's death (priest, chief, queen mother...), the Anyi would ask a woman famous for her pottery skills to realise a stylistic portrait of the departed person. It was then carried in procession to an enclosed place – containing the other portraits of the family lineage – away from the village and the other sepulchres.

These terracotta sculptures appeared under the form of figures or simply heads, like this specimen. They were believed to hold the spirit of the departed person after the funeral.

The Anyi paid tribute to their ancestors every year through libations and offerings during the yam festival.

 


Anyi : The Anyi people are an Akan subgroup from South Ghana and South-East Ivory Coast. Until the arrival of Portuguese explorers in 1474, Akan populations were divided into several independent kingdoms. They are now very distinct ethnic groups.

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