African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Bamana statue
Bambara Nyeleni statue (N° 20537)
Sculpture named "little favorite", Nyeleni in Bambara, represented frontally, her narrow bust widening toward the curved volume of the hips bears "shell" breasts.
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The hands that extend the long arms rest on the knees.
The very stylized face is framed by "horseshoe" ears.
Fine cracks of desiccation. Semi-matt oiled patina.
The Bambara of central and southern Mali belong to the large Mande group, like the Soninke and Malinke. They believe in the existence of a creator god generically called Ngala who maintains the order of the universe. His existence coexists with another androgynous god called Faro. Large masked festivals close the initiation rites of the dyo association and the ritual of the gwan of the Bambara in southern Bambara country.
Spread over a period of seven years as far as men are concerned, they are less demanding for women. The new initiates then celebrate, in groups, from village to village, their symbolic rebirth. These are the sons of the blacksmiths who dance around these statues that were placed outside the festivities grouped on an altar after having been oiled and decorated. Each effigy was the bearer of a message revealed to the initiated.
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