African art > Bronze rider, wooden rider, dogon, yoruba > Horseman Sao
Cavalier Sao Sokoto Putchu Guinadji (N° 18845)
Used as an amulet credited with apotropaic virtues, this small bronze sculpture constitutes, for the Sao, a talisman supposed to protect them from madness. It is therefore worn permanently.
The genius who would possess the madman is represented by the rider, the horse representing the victim. The rider wearing a goat's head is riding an equine which was a rare attribute of prestige in these regions of the Sahel. Golden brown patina.
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The Sao, ancestors of the Kotoko, 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, which enabled them to repel invaders.
Subjected to successive assaults from their neighbors in Kanem and then to hordes from the East, the Sao had to abandon their land to settle in northwestern Cameroon where they mixed with the natives, giving birth to an ethnic group called Kotoko.
The lost wax casting was already commonly practiced from the 12th century by this African ethnic group, which mainly produced, among the prestigious objects, jewelry in copper alloy. The Kotoko still attribute a mythical origin to the cuprous metal today, giving it a protective value.
Source: "Horse and rider in the art of Black Africa" G. Massa, ed. Sepia
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