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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Bambara Sculptures : Bambara Sculpture of a Standing Woman
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Bambara Sculpture of a Standing Woman - PF.3204 (LSO)
Origin: Mali
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 15" (38.1cm) high x 2.25" (5.7cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Iron

$3,600.00
Location: United States
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Description
This attractive slender iron sculpture was made by the Bamana (or Bambara) people of Mali. It is a very simple yet effective sculpture, with short legs, a very elongated torso, a wide shoulder panel, very thin, elongated arms and a tall head with nugatory features and a pair of plaits that curl downwards, upwards then inwards. Detailing is minimal, other than the breasts that indicate the person represented is female. The surface is very dark, from a combination of oxidization, use wear and age.

The Bambara/Bamana are one of the largest groups in Mali (about 2.5 million) and lives in a savannah grassland area that contrasts strongly with the Dogon heartland. Their linguistic heritage indicates that they are part of the Mande group, although their origins go back perhaps as far as 1500 BC in the present-day Sahara. They gave rise to the Bozo, who founded Djenne in an area subsequently overrun by the Soninke Mande (<1100 AD). Their last empire dissolved in the 1600s, and many Mande speakers spread out along the Nigeria River Basin. The Bamana empire arose from these remnant populations in around 1740. The height of its imperial strength was reached in the 1780s under the rule of Ngolo Diarra, who expanded their territory considerably.

They have a very complex caste-based social system, while age, sex and occupation groups are also classed to reflect their social importance. This complex structure is echoed in the systematics of indigenous art traditions. There are four main mask forms, related to the n’tomo, Komo, Nama and Kore societies. Sculptures include Guandousou, Guaitigi and Guanyenni figures, that are used to promote fertility and social balance, while heavily encrusted zoomorphic Boli figures serve an apotropaic function. Everyday items include iron staffs, wooden puppets and equestrian figures; their sexually-constructed anthropomorphic door locks are especially well-known. Iron figures such as this are used for Dyo and Gouan society ceremonies, for funeral rituals of prominent people (usually female, hence the sculpture's gender) . They were placed in or beneath the Bana tree to assist the soul of the deceased to ascend to its heavenly destination. These figures usually had large hands, although the size of the Bamana homeland would naturally imply a certain variability.

This is a charming piece of Africana that would sit well in any collection or sophisticated domestic setting.

- (PF.3204 (LSO))

 

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