Lot 7
  • 7

Senufo Oracle Figure, Côte d'Ivoire

8,000 - 12,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood, fabric, iron, feathers of violet turaco, domestic chicken, and African spoonbill
  • Height: 34 1/4 in (87 cm)


Galerie Kamer, New York
Arthur Cohen & Elaine Lustig Cohen, New York, acquired from the above on June 10, 1966

Catalogue Note

In the Senufo language, kafigeledjo roughly translates to 'he who speaks the truth'. As instruments of divinatory practice, these oracle figures played a central role in rituals of the same name. Hidden from public view, kafigeledjo were physically accessible to only the most learned and senior male elders of the initiatory poro society, and very occasionally, female leaders in the sandogo association. Possessing oracular power, kafigeledjo figures were said to represent 'invisible bush spirits' (LaGamma, Art and Oracle, 2000, p. 26). Their truth-telling function helped to maintain social order by revealing 'misdeeds, false testimony, and culpability' (ibid.)

Aesthetically, kafigeledjo is at once both representational and abstract. Its fabric-woven form topped with feathers and quills resembles a frenetic human figure, yet the layers of mud and other crusty sacrificial materials and the jarring iron blade shroud the figure in a cloud of secrecy and imbue it with a sense of potent intimidation. This combination of figural and abstract forms is symbolic of the object's spiritual power, which it wields in Senufo communities through leaders who straddled both human and spiritual worlds.