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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Female Senufo Wooden Pombilele Rhythm Pounder
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Female Senufo Wooden Pombilele Rhythm Pounder - PF.5721
Origin: Northern Ivory Coast/Mali
Circa: 1870 BC to 1920 BC
Dimensions: 43" (109.2cm) high x 17.5" (44.5cm) wide
Collection: African
Style: Senufo
Medium: Wood


Additional Information: Hong Kong

Location: Great Britain
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Description
Senufo figures vary a great deal, but nevertheless can be identified by their heart-shaped faces, arrow shaped noses and crescent coiffures. Among the most famous statues of African art are a series known as the Pombibele, those who give birth. This large sculpture, appropriately enough in the form of a woman, would have been used during the funeral ceremonies of Poro members, a male "secret" society, headed by the village elders, where the sacred knowledge of manhood is transferred to young initiates. In the southern Senufo area, these statues are carried and then pounded on the ground, providing rhythm for the dancers.

This sculpture is the representation of an idealized woman. Her elongated, sinuous forms are based upon the ideals of femininity. Her face appears like a typical Senufo mask with its semi- circular eyes and pointed chin with protruding mouth and exposed teeth. Ritualistic scarifications cover her body including her cheeks, shoulders, sagging breasts, the sides of her torso and her back, as well as the area around her navel and her buttocks. This extraordinary sculpture is a masterpiece of African art. The forms and composition of the figure are just the beginning of its beauty. For in this work, form and function are intertwined. Funeral ceremonies, while generally somber occasions, can also become celebrations of life as this sculpture implies. We can hear the beat of its pounding, we can picture the dancers, we can sense something greater than our eyes behold.
- (PF.5721)

 

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