345. Wooden Spoon Girl

Southern Africa, probably by a Nguni sculptor,
circa 1900
Size: 32 cm high

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Presented to girls on their maturity, such spoons were to be used to prepare food for the new husband. The pose is beguiling. Leaning back with bent legs, the Spoon Girl is performing a dance still typical of adolescent girls in the region. It was just such a spoon that inspired Alberto Giacometti’s Spoon Woman of 1926–7, where suggestive dance has been replaced by totemic rigour.