Harold Rome, New York
Ben Heller, New York, acquired from the above
Private Collection, New York, acquired from the above in the late 1970s
Susan Gagliardi, Senufo Unbound: Dynamics and Identity in West Africa, Milan, Cleveland, 2015, p. 33
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Senufo: Art and Identity in West Africa, February 22 - May 31, 2015; additional venue: Musée Fabre, Montpellier, November 28, 2015 - March 6, 2016
Like many heddle pulleys made by Senufo carvers, this functional object was embellished with delicate ornamentation in order to delight the weaver using it. The hornbill bird, or dynug, is one of the five primordial animals in Senufo cosmology and is iconographically widespread in Senufo material culture (Barbier, ed., Art of Côte d'Ivoire from the Collections of the Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva, 1993, Vol. 1, p. 61). In this example, the rounded body of the bird, highlighted by its curved beak, connotes fertility. Instead of exhibiting outstretched wings, as is common for heddle pulleys of this type, this bird's finely carved wings rest serenely next to its body. The stylized form and beautifully carved details on the wings of this piece highlight the highly public nature of weaving. When being used one can imagine it incited people to nian dan, or "take a good, thorough look" (Vogel, Baule: African Art, Western Eyes, New Haven, 1997, p. 272).