From a spherical mask, dug with holes for the eyes, stands a stylized effigy of a mythical bird frequently identified as the calao, or Setien , one of the five animals of the Senoufo cosmogony. Its long, tapered beak, interpreted as the figuration of the male sexual organ" that perpetuates the life of the community, elegantly returns to touch the bulging chest symbolizing motherhood. The paws hug the dome of the mask. Desication cracks restored in situ using metal staples, an old matte, velvety dark patina, locally abraded on a light wood. The Senoufo , a name given to them by French settlers, are mostly composed of farmers who have dispersed between Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. The councils of elders, led by an elected chief, administer the Senoufo villages. Governed by matrilineal traditions, they are composed of clusters of dwellings named katiolo . Each of them has its own association Poro which introduces young boys from the age of seven in a succession of three cycles lasting seven years. Living in a reserved neighbourhood, the sculptor sennufo , whose training spanned seven years, began with the making of everyday objects, and then, little by little, carried sculptures of increasing size. Initiatory rituals complemented his learning. Evoked for morphological and behavioural criteria, the calao decorates, in its miniature version, many objects of African senoufo art. Always fascinating to African ethnic groups, the disproportionate-beaked calao destroys animals considered harmful. Its particular mode of reproduction makes it a symbol of fertility. The sculptures of the Setien were placed in the sacred enclosure. The masks were worn on the head during ritual processions despite their weight. This mask reminded the initiates of the importance of procreation and the new birth of young people within the Poro.
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