Tellem figure with raised arm
16th century or earlier
Height: 17 ¼ in. (43.5 cm)
Ex collection Dr. Jacques Schotte (1928 – 2007), Ghent, Belgium
Ex collection Pierre Dartevelle, Brussels
Ex private collection, Paris
Published : Mali, Olivier Castellano, 2010, p. 69
The Tellem are thought to have occupied the region of the Bandiagara escarpment until the 16th century. A number of interrelated meanings have been given to human figures with raised arms in Mali art. In Dogon iconography, Griaule and Dieterlen interpreted the gesture of raised arms as representing various aspects of Nommo's role in organizing and purifying the universe and his relationship with Amma, the Creator (see "The Pale Fox", 1986, 381-85). Earlier, the gesture had been said to indicate communication between the earth and heaven (see "L’Afrique Fantôme", Michel Leiris, 1934), specifically a prayer for rain, an essential commodity in the arid environment of the Cliff of Bandiagara.