Mumuye live in northeastern Nigeria, on the left bank of the Benue River. They cultivate sorghum, millet, and yams. Due to the difficulty of access to their lands of rocky hills and savannas, the Mumuye remained in near total isolation until the end of 1950th. Few facts were known about them before the 1960s.
Mumuye artists are famous for their unusual wooden statues discovered only in 1968. These figures always display elongated body features. Even though the Mumuye show great respect for the ancestors, their statuary does not depict ancestors but rather incarnates tutelary spirits. These statues were used by both diviners and healers, whose professions included diagnosis and cure of ill health and other kinds of misfortune. The figures were used to greet rainmaker’s clients, guard the house, and as the owner’s confidant. They are also used in trials when men in dispute swear on the statue, which they must kiss. Elders used them to reinforce their status in society. It was not unusual for a figure simultaneously to serve two or more functions.
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This statue just finished acting as a prop in a major motion picture about P.T. Barnum. The film "Greatest Showman on Earth" starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams and others is scheduled for release Dec 2017.