African art > Rider > Rider Sao
Horseman talisman Sao Sokoto Putchu Guinadji (N° 16561)
Ex-collection French African art.
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Used as an amulet credited with apotropaic virtues, this small bronze sculpture is, for the Sao, a talisman supposed to protect them from madness. It is therefore worn at all times. The genius who would possess the madman is represented by the rider, the horse appearing the victim. This rider wearing a cheche rides an equine that was a rare attribute of prestige in these regions of the Sahel. The Sao, ancestors of the Kotokos, were established between the 12th and 14th centuries in a geographical area stretching along the borders between Chad, northern Cameroon and Nigeria. They settled on hills, allowing them to repel the invaders. Subjected to successive onslaughts from their neighbours in Kanem and then to hordes from the east, the Sao had to abandon their lands to settle in northwestern Cameroon where they mixed with the indigenous people, thus giving birth to an ethnic group called Kotoko. Lost wax cast iron was already commonly practiced as early as the 12th century by this African ethnic group, which produced mainly, among prestigious objects, copper alloy jewelry. The Kotokos still attribute to copper metal a mythical origin giving it a protective value. Source: "Horse and rider in black African art" G. Massa, ed. Sepia
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