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Wooden figure, South Africa, before 1893

Sir Theophilus Shepstone (1817–1893), a British colonial official (someone who worked for the British government in countries Britain had occupied and made part of the British Empire), collected this wooden figure on his travels. The figure was made before 1893, yet it looks rather modern. It reminds us that many of today’s artists have been influenced by traditional African art. What do you think it was for? Perhaps it had a ritual use, but it could also have been made as gift, or even a child’s toy.

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Images © The Trustees of the British Museum

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