It is not always clear to what a figure may represent or for what its usage is but they do all have their own significant purpose held in great regard by the specific tribe they belong to. Figures made include fertility, maternity, ancestral, reliquary, Ibeji (twins), fetish, shrine, divination and also guardian figures that protect the perimeter of villages and many more.
African figures are used and worshiped in a very serious manner, time is always taken to ritually look after, feed and pour libations over them, as many tribes are very spiritual and use the figures as a connection to their deity and such processes have to be carried out in order to keep the relevant worshiped deity happy and content.
Figures combine strong formal elements significant to their own tribe, and not always carved in proportion. Their expressive quality places them unmistakably at the start of the African sculptural tradition.
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