young ancestor

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Agbogho mmuo (maiden spirit) masks from the northern Igbo area in Nigeria, early to mid 20th century. The masks represent the spirits of young girls and female ancestors, their white faces represent supernatural and spiritual beauty, as the spirit world is a mirror image of the mortal world, and moral purity. Their hairstyles are exaggerated and embellished representations of Igbo women’s traditional hairstyles and their features are idealised. Photo: Zemanek Münster / Rand African Art

“Through most of human history, our ancestors had children shortly after puberty, just as the members of all nonhuman species do to this day. Whether we like the idea or not, our young ancestors must have been capable of providing for their offspring, defending their families from predators, cooperating with others, and in most other respects functioning fully as adults. If they couldn’t function as adults, their young could not have survived, which would have meant the swift demise of the human race. The fact that we’re still here suggests that most young people are probably far more capable than we think they are. Somewhere along the line, we lost sight of – and buried – the potential of our teens.” ― Robert Epstein