New Book: Maternités aus dem Pays Lobi

December 16, 2017 By: Dr. Stephan Herkenhoff

Over the past 20 years, we have been able to collect several Lobi maternity objects. This led to the idea of publishing a book on ‘mother and child’ representations. We asked selected collectors if they had more maternities in their collections and we were quite amazed at how many objects were made available to us.

‘Mother and child’ representations can be found in almost all epochs and cultures. Pregnancy and maternity were always of paramount importance for the survival of the group, tribe and humanity. By giving birth, feeding, and usually also through the education of a child, the woman gained an immensely important role in the social structure of the people. Naturally, there are many examples of ‘mother and child objects among other ethnic groups in Africa. Even in modern art, artists gave their attention to the subject.

It is therefore very interesting to see how varied Lobi artists have translated this ancient maternity theme into their own sculptural language. The various representations of maternities are very large among the ethnic groups living there. It ranges from naturalistic representations to cubist-looking sculptures and abstract objects.

Lobi Maternity Figures, Mali

The representation of the mother in interplay with her child is depicted in very different ways. First there is the power, then the beauty, and only rarely the affection for the child. The protective function can be seen in some sculptures. There are comparatively classical and, in the Western sense, beautiful representations. In addition, there are also very unusual and abstract compositions, which break some anatomical laws.


In this book over 100 objects are presented. The systematic classification into several chapters was organised according to the different positions of the mother and child and to the materials used (wood, clay and bronze). We have deliberately chosen black-and-white photographs, since we believe that this further emphasises the sculptural quality of the objects. It is our hope that this book increases the knowledge about the art of the Lobi and further increase the appreciation of these sculptures in the art world.

The book, with German, French, and English text, can be ordered from our website.


Dr. Stephan Herkenhoff

Dr. Stephan Herkenhoff lives in Osnabrück and works as a registered specialist in gynaecology and obstetrics. For more than thirty years he has collected African art together with his wife Petra. Since 1991, the focus of the collection has been on the Lobi and their neighbours. The passion for the art of these ethnic groups is shared by the two sons Sebastian and Niklas. In the last twelve years several books on the subject of Lobi art have been published. Two of the books took part in the 'Pilat' competition. Further information can be found on Herkenhoff Tribal Art.


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