Mama Aisa is the goddess of animals and plants, and a patroness of medicine, the arts, agriculture and trade. Her figure is associated with wisdom, compassion and unconditional love. As the head of the Gron-winti (gods of Earth), she is one of the most important gods within the Winti pantheon.
The figure of Mama Aisa is based off the Ghanaian mother goddess Asase Yaa, whose figure was in turn inspired by the Egyptian goddess Isis. Enslaved peoples took the reverence of Asase Yaa with them from West Africa to Suriname, where she was called Mama Aisa or Mamaisa. As many Afro-Surinamese people have moved to The Netherlands, Mama Aisa now resides here as well.
Boris van Berkum created the design of this statue based on an assemblage of three images. The first image is of modern-day Winti priestess Marian Markelo, who commissioned this statue; the second image is of a small, 19th Century, wooden statue of a priestess or medicine woman from Congo, belonging to the Wereldmuseum collection; the third image is of a 19th Century funeral mask used by the Punu peoples of Gabon, also belonging to the Wereldmuseum collection.
These three sources are unified in the design of this Mama Aisa statue. Using 3D-modelling, Boris van Berkum created an assemblage of these images. Also featured are reliefs of three different historical patterns from the collection of Tropenmuseum Amsterdam.
Take a look at the image gallery above to find out more about the images that this statue was inspired by.