Lü Me ('Wooden Person' Female Figure)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


Commissioned by powerful chiefs as 3-dimensional portraits of favourite wives, lü me figures can also sometimes function as maternity figures with babies carved on their backs. Once carving of the figure is complete, the lü me is introduced to the community during a large feast hosted by the chief (as such only wealthy men may commission a lü me for their wives). After the unveiling, the figure is usually kept hidden in the house and thereafter only revealed during important occasions.

Distinguishing Features

  • Height = 15 - 25 inches
  • Relatively naturalistic proportions and details
  • Hair in form of braided threads
  • Head has mask-like features
  • Narrow eyes and nose
  • Large mouth set low on tiny chin
  • Inset metal teeth
  • Thick banded or grooved neck
  • Heavy, hanging breasts
  • Hands that hang from the torso or slightly flexed at elbow
  • Slender torso
  • Tight buttocks
  • Powerful half-bent, bowed legs

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