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Senufo Bird Sejen Poropianong Mali African Art 29 Inch

Product #: 113852
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Title Senufo Bird Sejen Poropianong Mali African Art 29 Inch
Type of Object Carving, figure, post
Country of Origin Ivory Coast, Mali
People Senufo
Materials Wood
Approximate Age Second half 20th Century
Dimensions Height: 29 Inches
Width: 6 Inches
Overall Condition Fair. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair Cracks, both legs were repaired. Sculpture does not stand on its own.

Additional Information: Among the Senufo people of Ivory Coast,  sculpted birds play an important role in their ritual and ceremonial life and by drawing upon a rich symbolic pool of images the Senufo make art a vital component of their life through a variety of forms and materials.

Carved birds served as a major symbol for the men’s secret society known as Poro during initiations and at funerals for senior members. It was carried balanced on top of the head and held in place by bands of native woven cloth held in the dancer’s hands or tightly held by the legs.The bird is a motif well known among the Senufo as a symbol of fertility and an image of one of the five primordial creatures in Senufo creation mythology and a major symbol for initiations as it was called Kasingele, “the first ancestor’ or Poropianong, which literally means “mother of the Poro child (initiate)”. It was also called ‘sejen’, “an eagle” or simply the bird.Some Senufo myths also note that it was the first animal killed by man for food and was vital to the Senufo in their roles as farmers. Some sculptures of a bird were attached to the top of a thin pole and waved over the young men as they broke the ground for planting.It was to honor the best, ‘champion cultivator’ of the young men.When a well-known farmer died the sejen or ‘eagle staff’ would be placed by his house during his funeral to honor him in death as well as when he was a ‘champion farmer’.This  bird-figure obviously was probably used  as a pole to be ‘flown’ over farmer’s headsIn truth without knowing the specific use of the sculpted bird it is difficult to state its exact purpose.

Recommended Reading:

Glaze, A. “Art and Death in a Senufo Village”. 1981.

Forster, T., Die Kunst Der Senufo, Museum Reitberg Zurich. 1988..