African Moba statue

This “Tchitcheri Sakwa” is an African statue carved in wood from the Moba people, a West African population living mainly in northern Togo, but also in Ghana and Burkina Faso. THE Cherry are very recognizable minimalist sculptures reminiscent of abstract art; a cylindrical trunk with straight arms and legs, all topped with a round head without a neck.

Erected in the center of the Moba villages in northern Togo, the large Sakab Tchitchiri statues were planted in the ground, where they sank over time until they completely disappeared. This explains why the legs are often gnawed by wood-eating insects.

Tchitcheri sculptures are created on the recommendation of a diviner only and can only be shaped by a sculptor who is the son of a diviner. There are three types of Tchitcheri. The smallest, called Yendu, serve as a personal connection to the deity. Bawoong represent more recent ancestors (parents or grandparents) and are placed on the home altar. The Sakwa, like this sculpture, allude to the founding member of the clan.

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The art of MOBA

Moba art is one of the most minimalist African arts. It expresses a set of concepts with extreme economy of means. The vast corpus of moba statues, made of wood or iron, is extremely coherent. There is no such thing as a “fancy” moba object. The virtuosity of the sculptor has only a very limited field of freedom to express his talent: this will be the choice of a wood and its grain, its shape in certain cases, and above all the proportion of the major parts of the object, first and foremost the head. Consistent with the spirit of the style, the objects are rarely gendered and do not include detailed facial features.