African Art
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Female Figure with Four Children

ca. 12th–15th century

Terracotta with traces of red slip

13 3/4 × 8 7/16 × 7 5/16 in. (35 × 21.5 × 18.5 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
This female figure sits cross-legged, holding two children in front of her and two on her back. She wears a necklace and other jewelry and has scarification lines on her temples and a pattern of circles on her chest and arms. The undulating line that runs from her forehead to the nape of her neck represents a snake, believed by the Dogon people to have close links with the ancestral realm. Her pursed lips and bulging eyes are characteristic of Jenne-Jeno sculpture.
Sahel, Inland Niger Delta, Mali
or geography Sahel, Mali
On view
12th–15th century

Philippe Guimiot, Brussels, to June 11, 1981; Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn., 1981–2004; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


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: Museum for African Art, 1990), 128–29, fig. 55.

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

Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 178, pl. 162.

Warren M. Robbins and Nancy Ingram Nooter, African Art in American Collections (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), 67, fig. 41.

Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 66, 134, ill.

Bernard de Grunne, Djenné-Jeno: 1000 Years of Terracotta Statuary in Mali (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2014), fig. 12.

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.