Zande figure

Zande figure
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
[Southern Sudan] ?Northern Bahr el Ghazal ?Western Bahr el Ghazal ?Warab ?El Buheyrat ?Western Equatoria
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
By 1940
Animal Ivory Tooth
Carved , Incised , Inlaid , Polished
Ht = 251 mm, head W = 47 mm, th = 43.5 mm, w across shoulders = 62 mm, w across hips = 54.5 mm, base L = 65.5 mm, base W = 60.6 mm [RTS 27/8/2004].
580.2 g
Other Owners:
Collected by Vere Henry Fergusson according to the object tag, which would place its acquisition before his death in December 1927. Subsequently acquired by Charles Gabriel Seligman and donated to the PRM [RTS 27/8/2004].
Field Collector:
Vere Henry Fergusson
PRM Source:
Charles Gabriel Seligman or Brenda Zara Seligman
Donated 1940
Collected Date:
By December 1927
Figure carved from a single piece of pale cream coloured ivory (Pantone 7401C) in the form of a naked woman, standing with her elbows and knees slightly bent, hands held by her sides and her oversized feet placed together and pointing forwards. Ears, eyebrows, nose, oval eyes and mouth, small protruding breasts, pudenda, buttocks and toes are all indicated; incised and black inlaid drilled dotted circles have been added to emphasise the navel and the nipples. Similar black inlay has been used to mark out horizontal incised lines across the mouth and both eyes, as well as rows of dots following the curve of each eyebrow and running in a single line down the bridge of the nose. Scarification marks are indicated on the face in the form of a group of three short vertical lines on each cheek; these are too shallow to carry much inlaid colour. There is a raised ridge running around the back of the head that may represent the base of a hairstyle. The style of carving is angular in places: the face is depicted as an oval, flat vertical plane with features standing out from the surface in low relief; the back is a flat rectangular plane and the pubic area a flat triangle, while the arms have flat sides that give them square to rectangular sections. The rest of the body has been modelled in the round, and the outside edges of the feet are curved to produce an underside that is oval in plan view; their large size allows the figure to stand securely. The arms have been separated from the torso and do not touch it; the legs are similarly separated from one another. The object is complete and intact and has been polished on all surfaces except the underside and instep of the feet, which have been left rough. The figure has a weight of 580.2 grams and is 251 mm high. The head is 47 mm wide between the ears and 43.5 mm thick; the width between the shoulders is 62 mm, and across the hip area the figure is 54.5 mm wide and 45.3 mm thick; the base is 65.5 mm long and 60.6 mm wide.

Collected by Vere Henry Fergusson in the former Bahr el Ghazal province, presumably at some time between 1916, when he was posted to the Equatorial battalion of the Egyptian army, and December 1927 when he died in the Sudan. Acquired by Charles Gabriel Seligman and donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum in 1940.

At the time this object was collected, the Bahr el Ghazal province was much larger than it is today, extending from roughly the Bahr el Arab all the way to the border with the Belgian Congo; this area is now divided into the districts of Western Bahr el Ghazal, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and parts of Warab, El Buheyrat and Western Equatoria.

Rachael Sparks 26/9/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [p. 468] The late Professor C.G. SELIGMAN, M.D., F.R.S. Miscellaneous collection presented in part by himself, June, 1940, and in part, after his death, by Mrs B.Z. Seligman, October, 1940. [p. 502] - Female figure carved of ivory, c. 9 3/4 ins high. AZANDE tribe, BAHR EL GHAZAL PROV., A[nglo].E[gyptian]. SUDAN.

Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card [RTS 2/2/2004].

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - Female figure of ivory. AZANDE tribe, BAHR EL GHAZAL, A.E. SUDAN. Colld by Capt. V. Fergusson, d.d. Dr C.G. Seligman. 1940.12.607 [rectangular metal-edged tag, tied to object; RTS 27/8/2004].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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