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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Senufo Masks : Senufo Wooden Mask Featuring the King and Queen
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Senufo Wooden Mask Featuring the King and Queen - PF.1242
Origin: Northern Ivory Coast, Mali
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 19.75" (50.2cm) high x 7.25" (18.4cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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The Senufo tribe is particularly famous for its carvings, of which this is a superb example. Visiting Europeans were collecting tribal art before the 1920's in the Ivory coast. So much so, that demand began to exceed supply. The very traditional carving guilds opened their ranks to allow artists who were not recognized as guild carvers but who could execute works of art to satisfy the blooming interest in Europe. Because they were not initiated into the prestigious guild but were allowed to nevertheless carve, their style is often different from tribal traditions yet always familiar. Free from the stylistic constraints of the carving guild sculptures such as this one enter a new level of African art. A level that incorporates individual style.

The diverse elements flow logically into each other, creating an abstract yet powerful whole. A pair of feet allow the mask to stand upright; the limbs that support the feet rise up to become the chairs of the seated pair, whose own feet rest on the pointed ears of the central face, while the child between them crouches into position to jump. The central face has been hollowed out in typical mask form yet does not have the necessary holes for attachment. It is thus probable that this is one of the early commission works carved for Europeans and was never actually placed into use. The spots are not typical in Senufo art and it is likely they were added to enhance its interest to the foreign purchaser. Then as now this sculpture is a very exciting representation of a traditional theme executed with a contemporary approach. It also represents the shift from tribal traditions to a colonial aesthetic.
- (PF.1242)


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