Zaramo, Trunk figure - Mwana hiti, Tanzania
wood, beads, pigment
ex Sigfrid Södergren collection
6" tall
early 20th century

A very nice example with a well worn patina from extensive use.

Mwana hiti, a term that means some variant of "child made of wood", refers to iconic figures that depict a highly
stylized female torso with a crested head. The figures are commonly referred to as "dolls" but they are anything
but dolls as they play significant roles in the spiritual lives of a wide range of people in Tanzania. They are almost
exclusively used by female initiates during seclusion and coming out ceremonies. Smaller ones are often worn as
amulets by women wishing to enhance their fertility. The figures are also found on thrones, stools and staffs of the
region and often times represent ancestors and are depicted in pairs. - References from "Mwana Hiti" by Marc

Inventory # RTMH8

For additional detail, click on any photo below to see the higher resolution version of the image.