This the female of a pair of figures that are probably dedicated to Eshu, whose imagery includes long phallic-shaped hairstyles, the medicine gourds carried by the female figure, and the flute played by the male paired with her. In Yoruba traditional beliefs the god Eshu (also spelled Èsù), the divine messenger and the trickster who represents the unpredictable in life, facilitates contact with Olódùmarè, the Lord of the Sky. Contact with this creator or high god is established through rituals, offerings and the process of divination.
From the collection of the Tishmans, well-known New York collectors, they are also likely from the Igbomina Yoruba area of Nigeria and may have been carved by either Ogunremi (d. 1933) or Onadokun (d. 1930?), of the Agbegi compound in the village of Ijomu in the Oro district.
Such precise attributions reflected a growing determination among researchers to identify known hands and workshops, thus countering the West's perceived anonymity of Africa's traditional artists and disseminating the history of artistic production in Africa. This suggests that in building their collections, the Tishmans were cognizant of recent research in this area and were responsive to the increased availability of Nigerian works on the art market.
Wood standing female figure with a long phallic hairstyle and arms at her sides holding gourds. The legs are missing below the knees.
Paul and Ruth Tishman, New York, -- to 1984
African Cosmos: Stellar Arts, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 20-December 9, 2012; Newark Museum, February 26-August 11, 2013; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, August 23-November 30, 2014; Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, Atlanta, January 31-June 21, 2015
Thunder Over Miami: Ritual Objects of Nigerian and Afro-Cuban Religion, Center for African Studies, University of Florida, Miami, September 7-October 17, 1982; Frances Wolfson Art Gallery, New World Center Campus, Miami-Dade Community College, January 10-February 25, 1983; North Campus, Miami-Dade Community College, February 25-March 14, 1983
Chemeche, George. 2013. Eshu: The Divine Trickster. Woodbridge,Suffolk: the Antique Collectors' Club, page 246-247.
Kreamer, Christine Mullen, Bryna Freyer and Andrea Nicolls. 2007. African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, p. 15, fig. 9.
Sandoval, Mercedes. 1982. Thunder Over Miami: Ritual Objects of Nigerian and Afro-Cuban Religion. Miami: Miami-Dade Community College, nos. 11-12 (not illustrated).
Vogel, Susan (ed). 1981. For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 98-99, no. 51.