Ancestors in Stone

Sculptures from the Collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art.

By New Orleans Museum of Art

Akwanshi (Cross River Monolith) (circa 16th century) by UnidentifiedNew Orleans Museum of Art

Akwanshi (stones of dead ancestors) are not only associated with their distinguishing characteristics but have many values. Most importantly, these stones are associated with the idea of eternal life.

Akwanshi depict ancestors who can see the problems of the living and offer solutions to their families and communities, especially for requests involving fertility and agricultural abundance.

This concentric design, associated with the writing system of a men’s secret society, is referred to as nsibiri. It could also allude to a calendrical idea that helped determine the timing of the farming season.

Seated Male Figure (n.d.) by UnidentifiedNew Orleans Museum of Art

Unearthed from the ground and used in agricultural rituals, nomoli are ancestral figures that guarantee bountiful rice harvests that can nourish a whole community.

Funerary Equestrian Figure (ntadi or bitumba) (n.d.) by UnidentifiedNew Orleans Museum of Art

Considered a mortuary statue, ntadi were carved out of steatite to represent deceased ancestors. They are also placed among other grave goods at the burial site of the departed.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps