African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Monkey Senoufo
Figure of monkey Gbékré Senoufo (N° 19524)
Ex-collection of French African art.
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This cup-bearing simian statue stands out here thanks to its very fine morphology. There are several representations of the same type, with different names according to the use made of them. They were erroneously named Gbékré (mouse) because of "Delafosse's misunderstanding of two cults" (Boyer, "Baulé" 5Continents). Often linked to the Mbra cult of divination and possession, they belong to the group of "force-beings" or amwin , intermediaries between God and men and given to the Baule and Senoufos by their Creator, just like the sacred masks whose wide gaping jaws they share. It is also said to be a minor deity called aboya associated with the Mbra cult, and sometimes a figure associated with the mbotumbo ("baboon") cult of annual agrarian rites. Satin patina, localized granular deposits.
These carvings were intended to be propitiatory and to serve as a dwelling place for spirits to which offerings were presented and on which libations were made.
True monkey skulls often formed the head of the figure.
The carvings were kept in villages, but the ritual practices took place in the bush and sometimes in the center of the dance circle. Some were never to be seen by women, however, as were some of the masks.
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