519
519

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE GERMAN COLLECTION

A Senufo Bird Figure, Ivory Coast
JUMP TO LOT
519

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE GERMAN COLLECTION

A Senufo Bird Figure, Ivory Coast
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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A Senufo Bird Figure, Ivory Coast

Provenance

Gaston de Havenon Primitive Art, New York

Catalogue Note

Impressive sculptures of standing birds, such as the present figure, were carved by the Senufo people from the North of Ivory Coast. They were central to the male initiation associations known as poro, described by Robert Goldwater (Senufo Sculpture from West Africa, 1964, p.9) as “the most important socio-religious institution of the Senufo”. Most poro societies would have owned one of these large bird sculptures, likely carved to represent a species of hornbill. Some would have been carried on the head, whilst others would be stood on the ground, or carried using cords passed through the square holes in the wings during certain performances. The morphology of these rare statues references both male and female characteristics, with the excessively swollen belly suggesting maternity, and the elongated phallic beak.  For a closely related figure see the example in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. "1978.412.382"). A number of these sculptures were exhibited in the 2015 travelling exhibition Senufo: Art and Identity in West Africa organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and are illustrated in the accompanying book Senufo Unbound.

Collections

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