210952 - Rare & Old Tribal used Senufo birds statue - Iv. Coast


Old Tribal used African Senufo wood sculpture - Iv. Coast

This type of wood sculpture is used in initiation ceremonies.

Hand carved from wood, with color pigments.

This sculpture is high 64 cm and 55 cm wide

This sculpture was collected between 1970 and 1980 and ended up in my private collection in 2001.

The Senufo people, also known as Siena, Senefo, Sene, Senoufo, and Syénambélé, are a West African ethnolinguistic group. They consist of diverse subgroups living in a region spanning the northern Ivory Coast, the southeastern Mali and the western Burkina Faso. One sub-group, the Nafana, is found in north-western Ghana.The Senufo people are predominantly animists, with some who are Muslims. They are regionally famous for their handicrafts, many of which feature their cultural themes and religious beliefs.

The Senufo are predominantly an agricultural people cultivating corn, millet, yams, and peanut. Senufo villages consist of small mud-brick homes. In the rainy southern communities of Senufo, thatched roofs are common, while flat roofs are prevalent in dry desert-like north. The Senufo is a patriarchal extended family society, where arranged typically cousin marriage and polygyny has been fairly common, however, succession and property inheritance has been matrilineal.

As agriculturalists, they cultivate a wide variety of crops, including cotton and cash crops for the international market. As musicians, they are world renowned, playing a multitude of instruments from: wind instruments (Aerophones), stringed instruments (Chordaphones) and percussive instruments (Membranophones). Senufo communities use a caste system, each division known as a katioula. In this system the farmers, known as Fo no, and the artisans at the opposite ends of the spectrum. The term artisan encompasses different individual castes within Senufo society including blacksmiths (Kule), carvers (Kpeene), brasscutters (Tyeli), potterers, and leather workers, whose lives revolve around the roles, responsibilities, and structures inhabited by the individual class. Training to become an artisan takes about seven or eight years; commencing with an apprenticeship where the trainees create objects not associated with the religion of the Senufo, then culminating with an initiation process where they obtain the ability to create ritual object.

Regionally, the Senufo are famous as musicians and superb carvers of wood sculpture, masks, and figurines. The Senufo people have specialized their art and handicraft work by subgroups, wherein the art is learnt within this group, passed from one generation to the next. The Kulubele specialize as woodcarvers, the Fonombele specialize in blacksmith and basketry work, the Kpeembele specialize in brass casting, the Djelebele are renowned for leatherwork, the Tchedumbele are masters of gunsmith work, while Numu specialize in smithing and weaving. Outside the artisan subgroups, the Senufo people have hunters, musicians, grave-diggers, diviners, and healers who are called the Fejembele. Among these various subgroups, the leatherworkers or Djelebele are the ones who have most adopted Islam, although those who convert retain many of their animist practices.

Traditionally, the Senufo people have been a socially stratified society, similar to many West African ethnic groups having castes. These endogamous divisions are locally called Katioula, and one of the strata in this division includes slaves and descendants of slaves. According to Dolores Richter, the caste system found among Senufo people features "hierarchical ranking including despised lower castes, occupational specificity, ritual complementarity, endogamy, hereditary membership, residential isolation, and the political superiority of farmers over artisan castes".

The Senufo people usually fall within four societies in their culture: Poro, Sandogo, Wambele, or Tyekpa. While all the societies fill particular roles in the governance and education of the Senufo people, the Poro and Sandogo. Spirituality and divination are divided between these two gender-imperative societies with women falling under the Sando or Sandogo society, and men falling under the Poro society with the exception of men who are members of those of the women because of their mother. These societies are the two that create the majority of commissioned Seunfo art.

Typically, the Senufo villages are independent of each other, and each has a male secret society called Poro with elaborate initiation rituals in a patch of forest they consider as sacred. The initiation rituals involve masks, figurines, and ritual equipment that the Senufo people carve and have perfected. The secrecy has helped the Senufo people to preserve their culture in the times of wars and political pressure. Senufo wear specially-crafted brass jewelry, such as those mimicking wildlife.