African Art

Comb with a Mother and Child

late 19th–early 20th century


7 7/8 x 1 9/16 x 1 3/8 in. (20 x 4 x 3.5 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
Some of the most charming African objects are miniature gems of utilitarian art. This hair comb features a maternity figure with a child clinging to her back in the manner in which mothers and infants are seen ubiquitously all over Africa. This comb would have been a prestige item for a woman or man of position, for example, a chief and his family, or the family of a wealthy farmer or businessman.
19th–20th century
Made in Central Africa, Angola
Made in Democratic Republic of the Congo
On view

Philippe Guimiot, Brussels, to June 28, 1982; Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn, 1982–2004; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Roger Vokaer, La maternité dans les arts premiers/Het Moederschap in de Primitive Kunsten, exh. cat. (Brussels: Société Generale de Banque, 1977), 67, no. 58.

Warren M. Robbins and Nancy Ingram Nooter, African Art in American Collections (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), 410, fig. 1042.

Susan Vogel and Jerry L. Thompson, Closeup: Lessons in the Art of Seeing African Sculpture from an American Collection and the Horstmann Collection, exh. cat. (New York: The Center for African Art, 1990), 173, fig. 104.

Frederick John Lamp, “Charles Benenson and His Legacy of African Art to Yale,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2004): 26, 40, ill.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2006–June 30, 2007,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 4, ill.

Frederick John Lamp, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 115, ill.

Arthur Bourgeois, Yaka (Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2014), 119, fig. 8.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.