“Mami Wata”: December Collection Highlight

High Museum of Art
Dec 9, 2020 · 1 min read

Watch as the High’s curator of African art discusses this powerful Igbo sculpture of Mami Wata, a divine water spirit.

Video credit: Ashley Wills

This large sculpture was made for Mami Wata, (pidgin English for “Mother of Water”), a charismatic being of great spiritual power celebrated in West and Central Africa and reimagined as deities such as La Sirene (Haitian Vodou) and Yemanjá (Candomblé and Umbanda) in Afro-Atlantic spiritual traditions.

Mami Wata is often associated with water’s sacred, healing power and with love, wealth, and good fortune. This sculpture’s silver high-heeled shoes were restored following the design of a closely related sculpture photographed in a shrine in eastern Nigeria in the 1990s.

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Igbo Artist, Nigeria, Mami Wata, ca. 1950

Lauren Tate Baeza, the Fred and Rita Richman Curator of African Art, discusses Mami Wata in the film above.

This is just one of over seventeen thousand artworks in our collection. The High’s your place for digital content!

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