Senufo female figure

Ivory Coast

Carved wood
Late 19th – early 20th century
Height: 22 ¼ in. (56.5 cm)

Ex Sotheby’s, January 8th, 1968, lot 12
Ex collection Hans Schleger (1898-1976), London, UK
Ex collection Adrian Schlag, Brussels, Belgium

Publication and exhibition:
“Archetypes”, Tribal Art Classics, TEFAF Maastricht, March 2017, p.24-27

African Heritage Documentation & Research Centre Archive: Ref. #0140144

Price: sold

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. Senufo female figures were notably used by members of the Sando (Sando'o) secret society for soothsaying purposes. Female figures represent celebrations of fertility.
The figure shown here is distinguished by its geometric construction and delicate features.
The tension of the face projecting forward is counterbalanced by the pronounced curve of the back and the slenderness of the neck, underlining the superb upright posture of the figure. Another interesting feature is the masked-shaped receptacle carved on the top of the head .