African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Sao Bronze
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 possesses the madman is represented by the rider, the horse representing the victim. This horseman wearing a cheche rides an equine which was a rare attribute of prestige in these regions of the Sahel.
The Sao, ancestors of the Kotoko, were established between the 12th and 14th centuries in a geographical area extending over the borders between Chad, northern Cameroon and Nigeria. They established themselves on hills, which enabled them to repel invaders.
Subjected to successive attacks from their neighbors in Kanem and then to hordes from the East, the Sao had to abandon their lands to settle in the North-West of Cameroon where they mixed with the natives, thus giving birth to the Kotokos.
The Kotoko still attribute today to the copper metal a mythical origin giving it a protective value.
Source: "Horse and rider in the art of black Africa" G. Massa, ed. Sepia
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