African art > Puppets, dolls > Markha puppet
Bamana, Marka or Bozo puppet element (N° 21529)
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" Mani " is a diminutive meaning "little person" qualifying the African puppets with a human face used by the Bambara and Markha during didactic shows. This tradition of puppet theater is common to the multi-ethnic peoples living in the inner Niger Delta, including the Bozo, particularly in the Segou region where it is called "sogobo."
Residues of pink pigments on the face. Velvety patina of use, cracks of desiccation.
In Mali, the invention of the puppet is attributed to the geniuses of the bush who kidnapped Toboji Centa, a bozo fisherman.
During his stay with the geniuses, the man became familiar with this unknown art. On his return he goes to the blacksmiths and teaches them how to make two kinds of puppets: miniature or enlarged animals and people.
The Markha have an initiatory language, a means of communication in the hands of the initiated. The Markha, also called Warka, live in the north of the Bambara territory and have, therefore, been influenced by them, particularly in the design of their masks. The particularity of Markha masks and statues remains the addition of decorative brass plates engraved with motifs. Their puppets are also renowned. In addition to the similarities between Markha and Bambara art, they also share common institutions.
Litt. "An art of celebration in Mali" A. Favreau. Ed. Ecole du Louvre.
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