X95.43.5 Sculpture of Woman with Snakes

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Sculpture of Woman with Snakes
Cote d’Ivoire
Baule peoples
Wood and paint
Circa 1970’s
H: 51.0 cm, W: 18.2 cm, D: 15.0 cm (H: 20.0 in, W: 7.1 in, D: 5.9 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Philip Ravenhill and Judith Timyan. X95.43.5


A Baule Mami Wata sculpture may have had several purposes: a spirit spouse figure; part of a Mami Wata altar; a display figure for the performance of a diviner (komyen); or perhaps decoration for a modern Baule household. It contains many references to wealth and modernity (dress and earrings), but the figure is not all sweetness and beauty. The knife held in her left hand and grasped by her snake companion suggests her potential for harsh, violent action.

Source: Drewal, Henry John. (2008) “Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas”, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 87