African art > African Statues > Statue Bamana
Figure of Queen Bambara (N° 17130)
These female statues named Guandoudou were surrounded by statues depicting their servants guannyeyi, with cups of offerings or supporting their breasts. The blacksmiths of the Dyo society used them during ceremonies marking the end of the initiation.
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This seated figure sports the distinctive Bambara hairstyle, a crest and two side mats, her child is placed against her bust. The disproportion between the upper body and the lower limbs, truncated, forms a recurring character for this type of sculpture. The dark brown patina, oiled, reveals a light wood under the abraded areas.
The Bambara (or "incroyant") of central and southern Mali belong to the large Mande group, like the Soninke and Malinke. They believe in the existence of a creative god generically called Ngala and who maintains the order of the universe. Its existence coexists with another androgynous god called Faro, who has given all the qualities to men and who grows the fruits of the earth. Large masked festivals close the initiation rites of the association dyo and the ritual of gwan s bambara in the south of the Bambara country. Spread over a seven-year period for men, they are less demanding for women. The new initiates then celebrate, in groups, from village to village, their symbolic rebirth. It is the sons of the blacksmiths who dance around these statues that were arranged outside the festivities grouped on an altar after having oiled and decorated them. Each effigy carried a message to the insiders.
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