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Bamana Marka or Malinke Female Mali African Art 31 Inch

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Product #: 74964
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Title Bamana Marka or Malinke Female Mali African Art 31 Inch
Type of Object Figure
Country of Origin Mali
People Bamana, Marka, see also Malinke
Materials Wood
Approximate Age Mid/Second half 20th century
Dimensions 31 inches H. x 6.5 inches W.
Overall Condition Good
Damage/Repair cracks and chips in base, dents in places , traces of red pigment


Additional Information:


A wonderful female figure sitting on a stool and carrying a bowl in her hands. This piece is unique and challenging to identify. She's tentatively attributed to the Bamana although it shows traits that related it to the Marka, Boso  or the Malinke.  This figure could be a work from Bamana neighbors such as Malinke or Bozo.  The existence of female figures holding bowl  among these people is not well-documented. We believe  these figures are connected  to the  annual ceremonies of the ""Guan"" Society, and they are quite rare. It is possible that this piece is one the smaller Guan attendant figures, but the simple form makes this somewhat unlikely. The piece is more likely an ancestor figure. Whatever its purpose, it was important to the village, as its form suggests that it may represent an ancestor and was used for offerings! This is an important piece that would hold a prominent place in a collction. The intrinseque qualiy if the piece , its unique style as well as its important in the culture where this sculpture  is from . 


The Bamana have made a significant contribution to the popularity of African art. The artistic diversity of the Bamana is without doubt one of the most astounding, and confounding, of all West African groups. It is interesting that perhaps their closest rivals in complexity are their neighbors to the north and east, the Dogon, and Malinke with whom they share certain stylistic similarities. Complex religious, funerary, initiation, and agricultural rites have resulted in an enormous pantheon of ritual objects. The Bamana are known for their headcrests, Ci-Wara and also for their "jonyele"statuary. These large statues, usually female, but sometimes hermaphroditic, feature exaggerated volumes, including large conical heads and breasts. They are kept in shrines for most of the year, but are brought out for display and handling at the end of initiations. Couples such as these are rare and probably used for "dyo" society rituals.


The genesis of the Bamana as a definable culture can be traced back to the 17th century, though archaeological evidence hints that they could be much older. They are of Mandinke origin and today are the largest culture in Mali. The zenith of Bamana culture occurred during the late 18th century during the reign of N'golo Diara, who conquered the Peul tribe and occupied the important cities of Timbuktu and Djenne. They remained powerful until conquered by the French in 1892. Recently, like many African cultures, they have been affected by Islamic settlers from the east.


Though they continue to consider themselves animists, many Bamana villages now practice a hybrid combination of both ""religions."" This has allowed these competing cultures to coexist peacefully.


I have examined this piece and agree with the description


Niangi Batulukisi, PhD. .