kwere mwana hiti figure
size: 6.5" (16.5 cm)
provenance: private USA estate collection
This fine old Mwana hiti figure is from the Kwere people of Tanzania. The term Mwana Hitiloosely means "child made of wood", and refers to iconic figures that depict a highly stylized female torso. The figures are commonly referred to as "dolls" but they are anything but dolls as they play significant roles in the spiritual lives of a wide range of ethnic groups in Tanzania. They are almost exclusively used by female initiates during seclusion and coming out ceremonies. Smaller ones are often worn as amulets by women wishing to enhance their fertility. The figures are also found on thrones, stools and staffs of the region and often times represent ancestors and are depicted in pairs.
~ Mwana Hiti by Mark Felix.