Figure: Seated Male, Stone, Sapi peoples

Figure: Seated Male

16th–20th century
Sierra Leone, Kissodougou region (?)
Sapi peoples
H. 19 11/16 x W. 8 1/4 x D. 9 1/2 in. (50 x 21 x 24.1cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 352
Carved stone heads and figures with broad, bulging features adorned with elaborate clothing, jewelry, and coiffures, were made by the Sapi people as memorials for dignitaries. The Sapi, early inhabitants, of the Western Guinea Coast and ancestors of the present-day Baga, Bullom, and Landuma peoples, among others, were assimilated by immigrants from the Western Sudan in the mid-sixteenth century. Portuguese records along with stylistically similar ivory carvings for Portuguese patrons help in dating the stone sculptures to the sixteenth century. Found accidentally in fields and riverbeds, they are identified as ancestors, castoffs from previous inhabitants of the region, or nature spirits. The sculptures are commonly placed on family altars to ensure fertile fields, and they serve in oath-taking and divination rituals.
[Henri Kamer, Paris and New York, until 1964]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1964, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1964–1978

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 316.