Kneeling Female Figure

possibly 18th century or earlier

African Art

On view, 1st floor, African Art

This figure shows characteristics considered highly desirable in Dogon women: she kneels devoutly, her head modestly bowed and her eyes cast downward. Her youthful breasts and rounded belly allude to her potential for childbearing. Her fingers point toward the fertile earth. Dogon women assume this posture during funerals to show grief and to express gratitude to the deceased for a productive life.


Wood with oil


17 11/16 × 3 3/4 × 4 5/16 in. (45 × 9.5 × 11 cm)

Credit Line

Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection

Accession Number



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 records is ongoing.



Collected in the Bandiagara region. Sotheby's New York, October 23, 1982, lot 262; Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn, 1982–2004; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • 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), 181, ill.
  • "Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222, 225, ill.
  • Richard Barnes, "Objects of Desire," Yale Alumni Magazine (September/October 2004): 221, ill.
  • Tom Phillips, Africa: The Art of a Continent (Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 2004), 504–505, fig. 6.15.
  • Bruce Museum, Three African Traditional: the Art of the Dogon, Fang and Songye, exh. cat. (Greenwich, CT: Bruce Museum, 1999), 11, fig. 10.
  • Helene Leloup, Statuaire Dogon/Dogon Statuary (Strasbourg, France: Daniele Amez, 1994), fig. 15.
  • 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), 132-133, fig. 60.
  • Bernard de Grunne, "Ancient Sculpture of the Inland Niger Delta and Its Influence on Dogon Art," African Arts 21, no. 4 (1988): 54.
  • Jean-Louis Sonnery and Gérald Berjonneau, Rediscovered Masterpieces of African Art (Boulonge, France: Olfert Dapper Foundation, 1987), 192.
  • "Sotheby's New York advertisement," African Arts 16, no. 2 (1983): 6, ill.
  • Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, Fine American Indian, African, and Oceanic Art, sale cat. (October 23, 1982), lot 262, ill.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

figures (representations), sculpture



Technical metadata and APIs


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