Africa

Senufo Figure

Ivory Coast

Carved wood
Early 20th century
Height: 15 in. (38 cm)

Ex collection Roger Bédiat (1907-1958)
Ex collection Lucien Van de Velde, Antwerp
Ex collection Didier Claes, Brussels
Ex private collection, Paris

Exhibition:
« Grands antiquaires et libraires », Claes, Brussels, 2007

Publication:
« Empreintes d’Afrique », 5 continents, 2011,
plate 87 page 276

Price: on request

Photo: © Hughes Dubois

Western Africa
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The Senufo people are farmers, living in a savanna zone covering the north of Ivory Coast, the south of Mali and the southwest of Burkina Faso. The first mention of them was in 1888 by Louis Gustave Binger, a naval infantry officer.
Senufo statuary is distinguished by its aesthetic refinement, where pure lines combine a hieratic quality and movement. Called Sando'o, Senufo anthropomorphic figures were used by soothsayers to communicate with the spirit world.
Female figures represent celebrations of fertility; the fact that the figure is seated is a symbol of power and strength.
The figure shown opposite is notable for the remarkable expressivity of the face and the fine-aged patina, proof of years of ritual libations.
The haughty, upright posture of the figure is counterbalanced by the sensuality of the curves.