Giriama Kigango Funerary Post
Origin: Southeastern Kenyan Coast
Approx Age: Mid 20th
Dimensions cm: 131 tall on stand shown
Ref. Number: 1219
A tall Giriama Kigango funerary post, this is a more elaborate piece as it has a three dimensional carving of the head rather than the plainer “lolly pop” styled flat planked posts. This has an aged patina and to the head has discolouration as it has had something poured over it, very typical carved markings to the outer left and right of the figure and the bottom of the post has been charred, possibly to prevent insects under ground where it previously stood.
Provenance: Ex UK Private Collector
The Giriama peoples carve wood funerary sculptures in the form of flat chip carved posts. Some have flat stylized heads like this example but others have more elaborately carved three dimensional heads. While both types are sometimes placed on the actual graves, they often are kept in the house compound where the elder male of the family can make offerings. The sculpture’s purpose is not to be a portrait or mark the location of a physical body as to offer a place for the spirit of the dead.
It seems that the tall posts are erected only for men, and specifically for those who were wealthy. Yet they are not permanent memorials. They can only be moved once and are then left behind as the farm is relocated, and are kept only as long as the individual is remembered.
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