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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Senufo Rhythm Pounders : Senufo Pounder
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Senufo Pounder - PH.0248
Origin: Ivory Coast/Mali
Circa: 19 AD to 20 AD
Dimensions: 49" (124.5cm) high x 6.5" (16.5cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Style: Senufo


Location: United States
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Description
The Senufo group, based in the Ivory Coast and Mali area, has a long history of using highly decorated objects in many aspects of everyday life. However, their extremely high level of skill in woodcarving is nowhere better seen than in the realm of their magical-religious art. At the heart of Senufo society is a patriarchal group of elders known as the Poro society, which is responsible for many religious and more urbane functions to do with the running of the tribal group. Their ceremonial events are often associated with dancing, music and the use of Pombilele sculptures. “Pombilele” literally translates as “those who give birth”, and traditionally constitute a pair of figures (one male, one female) who represent primordial humanity and the ancestry of all humankind. Most examples, however, are of single, female figures. The appearance of these figures is relatively homogenous, being tall, slim and somewhat angular. However, the personal characteristics of each sculpture were often based upon a dream or vision by a Poro elder. The figures were used as pounding devices (holding each arm) to keep the rhythm for dancing, or were stood for purposes of contemplation in the middle of the Poro society’s sacred enclosures. They are also used for the interment of prominent Poro members; they are carried to the graveside with the dead body, then used to tamp down the earth on top of the grave, to ensure that the spirit of the dead is directed to the afterlife rather than returning to haunt the living. In addition, style characteristic of Senufo Pounders is their large and slender figure with stylized facial features and minimal body decorations. Pieces like this one are examples of the fine craftsmanship of the Senufo as well as sacred remnants of their ritual practices. - (PH.0248)

 

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