An ancient Sub-Saharan terracotta figure of a woman giving birth.
The crudely formed figure is portrayed lying down on a flattened base, her knees raised, with one hand resting on the belly and one on the right knee. Incised decoration represents a necklace, and a raised circular ornament adorns her right forearm. The crown of the head is flattened and the facial features are incised, as are the fingers and toes.
The underside of the base is covered in a network of arcane symbols that appear not to belong to any known script, but which almost certainly would have carried magical significance. Further symbols are incised in an arc around the head of the figure.
This piece is accompanied by a positive thermoluminescence test report from the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, giving an age of 720 years BP.
Stylistically the figure closely resembles the Sao culture terracotta figurines from the Lake Chad area, known to have been produced predominantly in the 12th-13th century. However, the fact that magical symbols are not attested on Sao terracottas suggests a different cultural source, probably further to the east.
Rejoined on each leg.