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210151 - Rare & Old Tribal used Senufo Caryatid statue - Iv. Coast


Old Tribal used African Senufo Caryatid statue - Iv. Coast

This type of statues is used in initiation ceremonies.

Hand carved from a single piece of wood, with color pigments.

This mask is 69 cm high.

This statue has been identified as dating from the 1940s and shows signs of significant use.

The art of the Senufo people is quite popular nowadays, and their sculpture and masks are found in many European and American collections.  There are about 3 million Senufo living in the north of the Ivory Coast and the southern area of Mali. As in every country that was in touch with Islam and Christianity, many aspects of the traditional "native" culture were destroyed, especially in the 1950's where a new syncretic movment, "Massa or Alkora", was in the area.  There has been much French ethnologic field researchin that region.  Those pioneers had their own methods of acquiring pieces (that's another story).

The topic I want to introduce here is the "Sejen ceremony".   Sejen, "the bird", is a wooden sculpture that is mounted on a high post.  The wings are effused, and on the bird's back there are often another two smaller birds on minor sticks, and a cloth that is waving in the wind.  During September and October the young men of the city must build a yam field with hoes.  That's hard work, so it is organised as a competition.  There are many aspects in this hoe-competition, and in this article I only want to analyse the function and the art of selection of a few Sejen birds, and to show in this short report how their function has changed.