Page 1


Museum for African art, Museum Rietberg, Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon, COPYRIGHT PROTECTED




edited by Jean-Paul Colleyn

with contributions by Mary Jo Arnoldi James T. Brink Rene A. Bravmann Jean-Paul Colleyn David C. Conrad Kate Ezra Barbara E. Frank Salia Male Patrick McNaughton

Field photographs by Catherine De Clippel Selection of the artworks by Frank Herreman and Lorenz Homberger



BAMANA:Art ofExistence is published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title organized by the Museum for African Art, New York in cooperation with the Museum Reitberg,Zurich,Switzerland, and presented simultaneously in both venues from September to December,2001.The exhibition will travel to several domestic venues through 2003.

ASSOCIATE CURATOR Laurie Farrell TEXT EDITOR Pia Nkoduga TRANSLATORS Pia Nkoduga,French for English edition Copyright September 20010 Museum for African Art, New York; Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon,Gent; Museum Rietberg Zurich. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the Museum for African Art,593 Broadway, New York, NY 10012,tel: 212-966-1313,fax: 212-966-1432,email: museum@africanart.org. ENGLISH VERSION: Library of Congress Control Number 2001091515 Clothbound ISBN 9o-5349-359-X Paperbound ISBN 0-945802-32-3 GERMAN VERSION: Clothbound ISBN 90-5349-360-3 Paperbound ISBN 3-907077-00-8 Design: Annick Blommaert Printed and bound in Belgium by Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon. Frontispiece: Ci-wara crest mask in performance.When viewed in profile the headdress attains its aesthetic perfection. Photo: Catherine De Clippel, Dyele,1987. Front cover: Cat. 211. Crest mask:Sogonikun. Collected by Henry Kamer in Markala village,Segou region in 1958. Wood.H.66 cm.Frank Carroll. Back cover: Cat.79. Ntomo mask.Segou region. Wood,cowrie shells,seeds. H.35.5 cm.Charles and Kent Davis. Cat.106. Kore hyena mask:Suruku. Koulikoro region. Wood. H.46 cm. Henau Collection. Cat.131. Female figure: Nyeleni. Segou region. Wood,string, iron,cowrie shell. H.61 cm. New Orleans Museum of Art, Bequest of Victor K. Kiam.


Contents Preface Acknowledgments

p.7 p.8

Objects and Photos



THE CONTEXT Bamana and Bamanaya



Pilgrim Fajigi and Basiw from Mecca: Islam and Traditional Religion in the Former French Sudan p.25 DAVID C. CONRAD

Islamic Ritual and Practice in Bamana Segou - thei9th century "Citadel of Paganism"



More Than Objects: Bamana Artistry in Iron, Wood,Clay, Leather and Cloth P.45 BARBARA E. FRANK

BAMANA INSTITUTIONS The Sogow Imagining a Moral Universe Through Sogo be) Masquerades



The low A. The Initiation as Rite ofPassage Ntomo and Kore



Art of the Jo Society



The Jo and the Gwan



B. The "Power Associations" Introduction



The /Como



The Kona



The Ci-wara

p. 201






p. 242 13.248 p.256 p.257






Few images of African art are more familiar and appreciated than the Ci-wara Crest mask,the long-pronged antelope that was found in the studios of early modernists including Fauvist master and early African art

ANNE STARK Deputy Director

collector Andre Derain,and the painter and sculptor Fernand Leger. It was the Ci-wara(pronounced chiwara),among other works of the Bamana people,that made their mark with Henri Matisse,Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso,altering forever how the world views art. But who are the Bamana people,creators of the great Ci-wara? What is the meaning ofthe magnificent sculptural forms of these West African agriculturalists? And,as we come to know the Bamana,whose livelihoods depend upon yield from a harsh natural environment,what can we learn about faith,ritual and — the most essential value of all —the fundamental quest to preserve the continuity of life? In Bamana:The Art ofExistence in Mali,the Museum for African Art and the Museum Rietberg provide the most comprehensive examination ever undertaken of the Bamana people,contextualizing these marvelous art objects with criteria far beyond the reaches of tribal identity. Through this exhibition and the beautiful accompanying catalogue,we enter a complex living culture that is, in numerous ways,a paradigm for many West African peoples,and,in some ways, unlike any other. These marvelous Bamana art objects are the means to understanding a cultural philosophy that is — in the most essential ways— religious and emotional, public and collective. This exhibition and catalogue,which is the result of inquiry,research and dedication by esteemed scholars in America,Africa and Europe,are appropriate symbols of the many dimensions of Bamanaya that are,indeed,universal. As always,there are many individuals to acknowledge,without whose hard work this exhibition would not have materialized. First among them are Jean-Paul Colleyn and Catherine De Clippel,Exhibition Curators,who worked generously and tirelessly with the Museum staffto impart their knowledge and share

For the first time, a book tries to reconcile the facts and the word in the life of the Bamana, as if to dispel the serious criticism made by Aim6 Cesaire, about the famous book, "The Bantu Philosophy", by Tempels. He had said (in paraphrase): "In this book, the Bantu think, they do not live!". (...)For the first time, the entire Bamana society is given to us to look at and to think about". PASCAL BABA COULOUBALY

Anthropologist Ministry ofCulture ofRepublic ofMali

their admiration for this beautiful culture. In one way or another,the entire staff was involved with the creation of the exhibition and catalogue and we are grateful to every individual for the role he or she played. In particular,special thanks goes to Frank Herreman,Laurie Farrell and Carol Braide,of the Curatorial Department; Radiah Harper and Heidi Holder,who designed educational programs,tours and activities to complement and interpret the exhibition for our vast and diverse audience;Joan Banbury for her indefatigable efforts in identifying volunteers,docents and interns to support our educational activities and to those volunteers for helping bring them to life; Cynthia Chea,Arseman Yohannes and Alex Fall for their enthusiasm and hard work in generating widespread awareness among the public and the media for all that the Museum has to offer;to Andrei Nadler and Rita Frederick for their conscientious fiscal management;to Ana Pelaez for the hundreds of daily details she keeps in order,and to the Security and Museum Store staff,the first Museum representatives most of our visitors meet. To our visitors, we hope you are enriched by the exhibition,the catalogue,and the knowledge you gain about this profound culture and, more generally, by the Museum for African Art.



Acknowledgments JEAN-PAUL COLLEYN Guest Curator

It is with great pleasure that we acknowledge the people involved in the production of the exhibition,Bamana:The Art ofExistence in Mali. First, we would like to thank the following scholars who contributed with essays in their areas


of expertise for this catalogue: Mary Jo Arnoldi,James T. Brink, Rene A. Bravmann,David C.Conrad,Kate Ezra, Barbara E. Frank,Salia Male,and Patrick McNaughton.

FRANK HERREMAN Director ofExhibitions

Our gratitude also goes to the several museum curators and directors:The Detroit Institute of Arts, Michael Kan; Etnografisch Museum Antwerpen,Jan Van Alphen and Els De Palmenaer;Walt Disney Imagineering, Martin A.Sklar; Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation,Renee Gross; Indiana University Art Museum,Adelheid M.Gealt and Diane Pelrine;The Menil Collection, Houston, Ned Rifkin and Julia A. Bakke; New Orleans Museum of Art,E.John Bullard and William Fagaly;The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology,Jeremy A.Sabloff and Amber Hough. This exhibition would not have been possible without the willingness of the following collectors to lend their artworks:Thomas Alexander and Laura Rogers,Barbara and Wayne Amedee,Ana and Carlo Bella, Peter Blum,Frank Carroll,Jim and Ann Christensen,Charles and Kent Davis,Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass, Drs. Noble and Jean Endicott, Richard Faletti,Jack Faxon,Drs. Marc and Shirley Feldman,B. and U. Gottschalk, Renee and Chaim Gross Foundaton,Mark Groudine and Cynthia Putnam,William and Riva Harper,Henau Collection, Rita and John Grunwald, Robert Jacobs,Jan Katz, Dr. Marshal and Caroline Mount,Darwin and Geri Reedy,Mr.and Mrs.Edward Renwick,Laura and James J. Ross,Michael and Joan Salke, Harold Seidel,Syndey L Shaper, Roy and Sophia Sieber,Simmons Collection, Jerome and Ellen Stern, Farid Tawa,Susan and Richard Ulevitch, Richard and Penny Watson,William Watson,James Willis, Drew and Jeanne Wolfson,Maureen Zarember,and those who wish to remain anonymous. We are grateful to the Institut de Sciences Humaines(Mali),Musee National (Mali), Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (France),Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France),Centre d'Etudes Africaines(France), Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement(France), RTBF(Belgique),The American Museum of Natural History, and all the villages who have welcomed us in Mali. We would like to thank the Centro Studi Archeologica Africana de Milano for having given us the opportunity to expose and publish for the first time the results of our research in the Bamana area. We would also like to mention several individuals who have helped in the development of this exhibition and catalogue: Marc Auge,Michael Bastow,Adama Coulibaly,Bekaye Coulibaly,Arouna Dembele,Jean-Claude Gautier, Robert Rubin,Geroges Saade,Klena Sanogo,Mengoro Sanogo,Ousmane Sanogo,Enid Schildkrout,Samuel Sidibe, Jerry Vogel,and Susan Vogel. We wish to thank the Board ofTrustees at the Museum for African Art,Elsie Crum McCabe,President;and Anne Stark, Deputy Director.Our gratitude goes to all staff members and volunteers and especially to Laurie Farrell, Associate Curator, Dannette Mersky,Registrar,Carol Braide,Curatorial Assistant and Publications Coordinator,and Florence Carrie who assisted in the preparation of the loan requests. Furthermore,the National Swiss UNESCO Commission as well as the non-profit Vereinigung der Freunde afrikanischer Kultur(Organization of the Friends of African Culture) have generously supported this project with respect to its publication in French.Two hundred copies of the French edition are being sent at no charge to the national and regional libraries, museums,and institutions of higher education in Mali. Finally,a special thanks goes to Albert Lutz, Director,and Lorenz Homberger,Vice Director and Curator of Exhibitions,of the Museum Rietberg,Zurich,with whom we collaborated on the publication of this catalogue. Thanks to our collaboration,the objects from both the exhibitions in New York and Zurich are combined in this volume,making this publication a major contribution to the art and culture of the Bamana peoples of Mali.


Lenders to the Exhibitions

Museum for African Art, New York

Museum Rietberg,Zurich

Thomas Alexander and Laura Rogers

Museum der Kulturen Basel

Barbara and Wayne Amedee

Staatliches Museum fur Volkerkunde Munchen

Ana and Carlo Bella

Laboratoire d'Ethnologie,Musee de l'Homme,

Peter Blum,New York


Frank Carroll

Rautenstrauch Joest-Museum, Köln

Jim and Ann Christensen

Musee du Quay Branly,Paris

Charles and Kent Davis

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Detroit Institute of Arts

Direzione Civiche Raccolte d'Arte, Castello

Drs. Nicole and John Dentenfass

Sforzesco, Milano

Walt Disney —Tishman African Art Collection

Mr. Urs Albrecht, Basel

Drs. Noble and Jean Endicott

Mr.and Ms.Pierre Amrouche,Paris

Etnografisch Museum Antwerpen

Mr.and Ms. Dr. Rudolf Blum,Zumikon

Richard Faletti Family Collection

Mr.Patrick Caput,Paris

Jack Faxon

Mr.and Ms.Jean David,Zurich

Drs. Marc and Shirley Feldman

Mr.and Ms.M.Durand-Dessert,Paris

Collection B.and U.Gottschalk, Dusseldorf

Mr.and Ms.G. Feinsilber, Paris

The Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation

Dr.and Ms. Eberhard Fischer,Zurich

Mark Groudine and Cynthia Putnam

Mr. Alain Fourquet, Paris

William and Riva Harper

Mr.and Ms.Andre Gaillard, Paris

Henau Collection

Mr. Max Itzikovitz, Paris

Indiana University Art Museum

Ms. Berthe Kofler, Riehen

Rita and John Grunwald Collection

Mr.and Ms.Philippe Leloup, Paris

Robert Jacobs

Prof. Dr. Elsy Leuzinger,Zurich

Jan Katz

Mr.and Ms.Jean Luc Maisonneuve,Paris

The Menil Collection, Houston

Mr.and Ms.Peter Schnell,Zurich

Dr. Marshal and Caroline Mount

Mr.and Ms.Andre Schoeller,Paris

New Orleans Museum of Art

Mr. Alain Schoffel, Rouziers de Touraine

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of

Mr. Christoph Schuepp,Zurich

Archaeology and Anthropology

Mr.and Ms.Michael Storrer, Hallau

Darwin and Geri Reedy

Ms. Marilies Tschappat, Uitikon

Mr.And Mrs. Edward Renwick

Mr.and Ms. Rene Vanderstraete,Lasne

Laura and James J. Ross

And those who wish to remain anonymous

Michael and Joan Salke Harold Seidel Syndey L. Shaper Roy and Sophia Sieber Simmons Collection Jerome and Ellen Stern Farid Tawa Susan and Richard Ulevitch Richard and Penny Watson William Watson James Willis Drew and Jeanne Wolfson Maureen Zarember,Tambaran Gallery And those who wish to remain anonymous




Objects and photos


Is it possible to visually evoke a culture? To answer the question by a straight"yes or no," is a matter of being an optimist or a pessimist. A bet on the optimistic side

always seem like a means of recapturing the scent of an era, as though this scent

art objects along with snapshots taken in original surroundings can evoke convinc-

could be rendered by the image. Is there another specificity than this embalming

ingly a life-experience. We know how diffi-

power of photography? Susan Sontag (1977) and Roland Barthes(1980) have written a lot on how the photograph "kills" or "immortalizes a death," but,speaking sub-

much—despite our efforts to gain a certain degree of competence—we can only pretend to "tell stories,"to others as well as to ourselves. We have to live with this relative impotence,and the playful,sour or

jectively, it seems to me that photographs

resigned mood of postmodern skeptics faced with the challenge of doing"pure"

without imposing themselves upon the

science, bears traces of mourning for a

bition. While an audio-visual presentation will more easily distract the attention of the

philosopher's stone decidedly out of reach. The discerning viewer knows that every competent exhibition on no-matter what topic—African art,for example—presupposes a whole series of choices as to the definition of the subject,the sources used, the methodology employed,and the aesthetic (order,structure,style) of the exposé itself. Let us take good note:the specialist enjoys no privileged position, he tells stories,to the best of his ability,and never pretends to have reached a definitive truth. Any narration involves to some extent a degree of fiction. But one should keep in mind that although there may be a thousand ways to speak on a subject,this doesn't mean that they are all of equal value.Some—and it is here that research shows its worth—are less false than others. In this respect the photographs and Mother oftwins. Wolobougou. 1995.

Like it or not, photographs put forward an interpretation. Even when recent,they

hopes that the juxtaposition of religious

cult the question of "truth" is, and how


product of a multiplicity of choices.

the texts huddle beneath the same banner: both are constructs whose form is a

of the Bamana world restore a certain life to inanimate objects,and do this charmingly, reader of the book or the visitor to the exhi-

latter,the photo is a discrete companion. It contextualizes the objects without competing with them,though it is true that,a priori, photography is a poor medium for "rendering"the extraordinary explosion of energy present in African rituals.The photograph works time in a different way than collection-objects do:it puts forward an actualization.The spectator can see the rites in action,in their "natural"context.On the other hand,the black-and-white format, favored by so many photographers,runs the risk of casting the photographs—just like a collection-object—into an eternal past,even if this wasn't the author's idea, but the photographer has his or her own aesthetic reasons. Field photographs should be considered in related groups, because they interact and this contiguity creates a new reality. A reality of course different from that perceived in the field, which is not static nor



in black-and-white, but highly mobile and colorful. Does the photograph itself add to the barefacts, as one artist has suggested? Perhaps, but barefacts are powerful enough and don't need any add-on artifice. When the people are there,standing proud in their culture,the best homage a photographer can pay them is sobriety.The photo remains strongly related to the impression experienced in the field. Probably more than color photos, blackand-white images evoke,for me,the telluric feeling of village life, with the banco houses,some straw roofs,the dry season's dust and the rainy season's mud.In her famous essay,Susan Sontag sees the stillness of photographs as diametrically

own second reality. Some of these shots have been published, but without any real plan of an ensemble.To me,two criteria seem to have governed this picture-taking. The first is aesthetic,and here Catherine was her own mistress.The other,common to us both,follows from the ethics of fieldwork. By this I mean,that we have always tried to be as close as possible to the people there,and to their way of envisaging their activities. No doubt,this effort cannot help but contain a certain dose of illusion, inevitably part and parcel of optimism. Obviously,this is always a default approximation,to use a mathematical term,for however much we try to get close, we will

opposed to the flow of life(Sontag

never become the other. And at the same time we must avoid the excess of aestheti-

1977:81), but it can sometimes reveal something about movement that goes

cism or the too facile temptations of symbolism. Pitfalls abound in the subject mat-

unnoticed in the moving image. With respect to the photographs of Catherine De Clippel, it would be rather

ter,from the odious research on human "types" by the first anthropologists, whom today we can only consider as wholly mis-

difficult to apply John Berger's classical distinction between private images, made for personal and family reasons,and public

guided,to the exoticising romanticism which today still triumphs and sells. A pho-

images made for commercial or educational ends.Indeed,these photos ultimately respond to no demand,if not perhaps to our own desire,and they do not conform to any publication strategy. Frankly speaking, I do not see how to apply the classical grid which consists of studying the relation between the characteristics of images and their functional context,as one does for example with postcards, passport photos, or photographs found in newspapers or advertisements. Catherine found herself in the quite particular position of a photographer turned documentary filmmaker. She accompanied me in the field, most often to "scout" in connection with a film project. If "purpose"there was,then this was primarily in connection with the film, and these still photos were taken in the margin,for pleasure.The oldest of these photos date from some twenty years ago, and the corpus developed over the succeeding years,a bit like an experiment in the field, which gradually creates its

tograph is never the simple reflection of a reality which is,for that matter,so difficult to define. Even a "snapshot,"that takes just a second, has to invent and construct itself. It centers itself on a tension point,the punctum of which Barthes speaks,and it then becomes animated from the inside, without having to search for an artificial effect(Barthes 1980:93).The best photographers are those who do not set plastic research and observational skills against each other. In this current are counted great predecessors like Pierre Verger and Jean Rouch,and I believe Catherine takes her place here as well. She knows what she takes pictures of, while paying attention to the dramatic force of the ritual spectacles, to the architectural compositions,to the texture of the subject matter,to the expressive power of the portraits. Without ever having to talk about it, we agreed on framing these shots without affectation or conscious stylishness, without manipulation: no primitivism, no manufactured scenes, no easy exoticism,few poses(except upon the

I 12



Mosque in Aka, on the bank ofDebo Lake, 1999.


subject's request). A photograph has all the more strength when its author recedes behind the expressive power of a personage or a place. Nevertheless, with these photos the framing of the shot is never purely fortuitous.When it cuts-out large elements of nature or subject matter, in a way somewhat reminiscent of Kudelka,the shot's framing puts forward a principle of perceiving the landscape,and suddenly the earth and the sky become still more elemental. Catherine did not take photographs to illustrate textual information.They do not express values imposed from outside, but rather convey the energy of the people themselves during their activities. In my view,she succeeds in pulling this off. When I look at these pictures, I perceive more than a surface:the photographs suggest a deepness beyond the image. Each single person is, of course,fully individual and yet also incarnates the shared world which he or she inhabits.The energy of a good photograph does not come from the camera, but from the subject:the person,serious,skeptical or ready for a laugh,the crowd in jubilation, the "masks" which come right up to the camera nodding the head or,to the contrary, do their best to elude the lens's "fix." The photos do not convey an essential "ethnic" identity—many of them could have been taken in various places in Mali—but they attest to a wide range of experiences that connect people to their ancestors and their heritage. The passage of time betrays the ideology of authors of the past. But without the benefit of such hindsight, it is a much more difficult task to see eventual acts of ethnocentric labeling in our own practices of today. Are we ourselves immune from the common accusation of conveying a deformed image of the people in whom we are interested? Most likely not, but at least we can try to understand what has guided our choices. We would have great difficulty in denying that our first interest was in that which we saw as somewhat bewildering, and on the other hand by what simply




imposed itself owing to its spectacular dimension: namely,the ritual life. Have we thus"otherized" our hosts,for today this

colonial rule. Here has also survived, discretely but with strength,a Bamanaya which summons the intervention—

term has become ingrained in the jargon of cultural studies? In the 197os,the farmers whom we met in the Segou and

and dangerous objects which qualified priests handle with precaution. If the pho-

Sikasso regions were still up to go% Bamana,that is to say, not totally ignorant

between man and gods—of masked figures

tographs from twenty years ago seem contemporaneous with those of three years

of Islam, but fully taken up with the rites belonging to "another path." When,beginning in 1981, Catherine accompanied me

they testify to a prolonged past, but rather

nearly every year in the field,the ritual manifestations—whose study required an

because they bear witness to a present which is unfolding before our eyes. Ignoring

enormous investment of time and trust— automatically became essential as photographic subject. In twenty years, however, the proportion between Muslims and Bamana ("animists,"for want of a better term) had become inversed:from a minority,the Muslims had become a majority,to such an extent that today the cults of Kam& Kona, Nya and other comparable powers are only discretely active,and the Ntomo and Ci-wara have gradually been subsumed in the profane sphere of the Sogow bo(see Arnoldi here after). I have not gone so far as to change my subject of study,for in the domain of ritual—which by definition is fairly secret—progress is so slow that one is loathe to easily renounce one's investment. But nonetheless, we have directed more interest to Islam with all that this implies in the way of practices, signs,decors. Aside from regrets and misgivings, it seems to me that there is one message that comes through from this collection of

ago,this is not the fruit of backward-looking manipulation, nor due to the fact that

it, or anticipating its decline, would be taking part in a major return to Western ethnocentrism. To me Catherine's photography always seemed to be a way of saluting the people of the Malian countryside with whom we spent so much time. Like that beautiful woman of Sirakele,for instance, with her sunken cheeks and her mouth fixed in an expression at once pained and detached, proper to those who have mourned too often—does she pass merely as an anonymous grandmother? Even for those who do not know her, who know neither her children nor her grandchildren, it seems to me that beyond being the generic image of the eternal grandmother,she exists as an acquaintance (fig. 3). When one returns to a village after a long absence and asks for news of the"hosts"(jatigiw),of friends or simple acquaintances,the reply is immediate:"We are here!"—and this is all the more profound in a land where disease strikes hard and,unhappily, nothing can be taken

images:that of the unbelievable vigor of a culture which does not belong to the past, except for those who hasten to bury what they wish to honor as a humanity which is lost,or on the road to extinction. Malian

for granted.Then follow gifts from both sides, particularly the photos taken during the previous visit and the"welcoming" chicken.That a quite particular universe is encountered on Bambara "terrain,"seems

society in general, with its diverse facets, manifests an extraordinary aptitude for adaptation. It has been able to recompose

to be expected. All the same,the exoticism dims rapidly for those who form personal relationships, and who don't feed on the

itself after the incredible trauma of wars,

opposition "Them and Us." In the end, how

slavery, colonial conquest and successive droughts. It has integrated Islam, present in Mali for over ten centuries,and absorbed the shock of seventy years of

easy it is to stay somewhere and how little time is needed to again become immersed in this universe,different but familiar,even if one doesn't understand everything that is


going on. But,for that matter, how much do we understand of all that goes on in

our picture-taking,and it is interesting to know what the people who were

our own society?

photographed thought about it. Obviously, the social use of photographs depends on the cultural context, but the photographer

Sometimes we were quite close to our depicted subjects,sometimes not. Most of the time, we were close to a particular person,a host (jatigi)for whom we were the strangers(dunan),an honorific status among the Bamana,and this contact opened other doors in the village. Nobody was fearful or antagonistic about

and the anthropologist are not the only ones to ponder on the passage of time,the villagers do too: many people asked us for photos of their aging parents,as a future device to commemorate them "when they would have turned their backs."


Sirakele, 1994.



7Mditional culturalgroups ofthe Bamana region

Extent ofBamanaya



The context

The context

Bamana and Bamanaya


Tribalism has been considered by Westerners(explorers,anthropologists, journalists,tour guides,art historians) as a

The fact that this is no easy task—and sometimes even an impossible one—in oral

major characteristic of Africa. When the Europeans started conquering Africa,they were confronted with a diversity of

cultures as if they were pure essences.

cultures,is not an excuse to reify human

languages, religions,and customs that they did not understand. In an effort to put

As soon as culture is no longer primarily conceived as a set of rules to be enacted by individual members of distinct groups, but

some order into such a complex reality, colonial ethnography identified "races,"

as the specific ways in which actors create and produce beliefs, values, and other

which were classified according to the

means of social life, it has to be recognized that Time is a constitutive dimension of

model of natural history (Amselle 1990; Amselle and M'Bokolo 1985; Bazin 1985).

social reality. No matter whether one

Among these "races" were the Bambara or

chooses to stress "diachronic" or

Bamana of present-day Mali, but also the

"synchronic" historical or systematic

Soninke,the Fula,the Mandinka,the Marka,the Jula,the Bozo,the Dogon,and so on.These names have been widely

approach, they all are chronic, unthinkable without reference to Time. (JOHANNES FABIAN 1983:24)

adopted although they might not correspond at all to what people called themselves. Identity is a complex issue that has to be scrutinized from a very simple question:"who is classifying whom?" Ethnic identities represent specific linguistic, social, religious and political categories at a given moment in history, and in the past they were less reified than nowadays.The colonial policy of census,the influence of French schooling and the model of the nation went to rigidify ethnic distinctions. The Africans did not need the taxonomic

As social and historical constructs,ethnic groups and cultures are not eternal or absolute. In western Sudan in the nineteenth century,for many people, Bamana meant raiders and conquerors while,for the Soninke, who were largely Islamized early,the term meant slave.JeanLoup Amselle has argued that the term banmana designates in the Muslim conquerors' mind,the large mass of peasants-warriors unfaithful to Allah.The term was,in a way, an equivalent of names such as Kado (plural

frenzy of colonial ethnographers to feel attached to their culture,or to claim an exclusive identity in relation to each other,

Dogon (Amselle 1990125). As David Conrad

but it is important to understand the polit-

puts it in his contribution to this volume:

ical nature of an ongoing process of assim-

"Historically, Bamana culture was


ilation and of distinction (Amselle,199o;

During the days ofceremonies every "vestibule"is transformed into a bar, Wattorosso, 1982.

Perinbam,1997). Any type of grouping has to be put in a precise historical context.

distinguished from other Mandekan peoples such as the Soninke and Maninka, by the relatively slow progress that Islam was


Nyenaje: entertainment on the margins ofa ceremonic Wolobougou, 1982.

Habbe)or Ceddo (plural Sebbe) by which the Fula named polytheist people such as the



able to make against local traditional religion." In its most general sense, Bamanaya—the condition of being Bamana—was not referring to a particular tribe, but denoted certain religious representations and practices, a way of explaining the world and acting on it through rituals in order to achieve happiness. We can,indeed,talk about the"invention" of the Bambara "race" by French colonial ethnography (see Bazin 1985:119).The French form "Bambara" is a name given from outside—by Fula,Arab or Berber informants—and was never used by the people it designates.Colonial officials defined the "race" of their subjects according to the way they had first classified their languages, but the "Malinke" (Mandinka), Bambara and even Soninke "tribes"cannot easily be distinguished. They cover an immense territory and have integrated many other groups of diverse origin such as Fula,Senufo,Jalonke,etc. Many Mande families have their origin in Wagadu (or Ghana),in Soninke area. Sunjata's father himself,according to some griots,came from Ghana.The Fula of Wasolon are proud to be Fula although they have since long adopted the language and the culture of their Bamana neighbors (Person 1968:75; Amselle199o).The Bamana initiation societies(low) could have been labeled "Mande"and are

and the people of the Segou Kingdom because of their resistance to the holy war of al Hajj Umar Tal, but it has nothing to do with a scientific approach. Although a modern Bambara political consciousness might exist today on a local basis, it has to be analyzed in term of neo-traditionalism. According to all the sources,the people who were(and still are) eventually claiming to be Bamana refer to the fact that they don't perform prayers to Allah,the Muslim God, but remain faithful to the religion of their ancestors. Both the people of the Mande Plateau and of Koutiala area (the first being classified as Mandinka,the second as Minyanka)claim to be "true Bamana" (Bamana yere-yere). At least 25 out of the 92 Ci-wara headdresses reproduced by D. Zahan (1980)come from areas classified as Senufo, Minyanka or Bwa.If you consider some photography captions from the Metropolitan Museum Photo Archive in the Goldwater Library in New York,the fluidity of ethnic classification appears obvious.The piece AF 2A,a helmet mask,is labeled as Bambara but the indicated provenance is Minyanka region and the style Malinke! The Ci-wara headdress numbered AF2A comes from the Senufo Kenedugu area, Kinian district, and is (rightly) identified as Bamana. These captions are not erroneous,they simply show that"Bamana" people borrow

diffused in a large part of Mali (see the contribution of P. McNaughton).The famous"Bamana"theater,as Mary Jo

cults without any consideration of ethnicity in the colonial sense.As another example, consider the!Comb mask from the Musee d'Ethnographie de Geneve that has been

Arnoldi points out in her contribution, originated among Bozo fishing people.She specifies that in local terms,it is not sculptural style (which is identical), but performance style (songs,dance, music)that dis-

published by Goldwater (a Bambara canon): it comes from Kiela,a Minyanka village of Koutiala district. Although Bamanaya is a marker opposed to Islam, it has to be analyzed as a

tinguishes fishermen's and farmer's theaters from one another. Many authors also notice the shifting identities of many

considered as a pre-Islamic religion, particularly since, in a number of regions,Bamana

individuals and groups.A Bamana farmer

immigrants have dominated Islamic popula-

who leaves his field, converts to Islam and works as a trader automatically becomes a Jula. Rene Bravmann is certainly right when he suggests that French colonial ethnography linked the name Bambara

tions:The mother of Biton Coulibaly, founder of the Bamana Kingdom,was a "pious Muslim"and we can still see the mosque he built for her in Segou.'As David

historical product,and can in no way be

Conrad and Rene Bravmann's papers in this

I 20


volume show,Bamana conceptions cannot

as distinct from any ethnic stock. As Barbara

be easily separated from Islam,as this

Frank explains,and as is confirmed by fieldworkers' notes all over Mali,they claim to be "older" and to come from a particular stock, which is another subtlety that renders the concept of ethnic identity problematic.

monotheistic religion has been present in this part of Africa for no less than eleven centuries. Important religious concepts and the main divination system itself have been borrowed from the Arab language and religious ideology. In Beledugu, Bendugu,Wasolon, Baninko and

The exhibition covers a large part of Mali where a common language is spoken, although under different dialectal forms or

Minyankala,one of the honor names pronounced in prayers and songs addressed to

as a second language by the Minyanka and the Senufo.Our area is limited to Mali,

the Komi is Moriba (marabout). Both marabouts (specialists in Islamic science)

although this Mandinka-Bamana language

and Bamana priests(somaw)share the same type of competence in philosophical discussions, predictions and medicine. In his paper,Conrad shows that the legend of Fajigi expresses the accommodation between indigenous religious practices and Islam.Among the early Malian rulers (mansaw)who undertook the arduous trans-Saharan pilgrimage to Mecca,one of the most prominent was Mansa Musa, who made his historic journey in 1324. It seems possible that this pilgrimage could have given rise to the legend of Fajigi. Arab sources and Mande legends concord on the fact that both Mansa Musa and Fajigi went to Mecca,the former purchasing works on Muslim law to take back to Mali, the latter returning with assorted basiw and boliw ("medicines" and "power objects"). It is, probably unconsciously,a way to legitimize the origin of various autochthonous ritual institutions:"power objects of indigenous Mande religion sprouted in the same soil that engendered Islam." Bravmann's essay reveals the pres-

allows mutual comprehension over a distance of more than 1200 km.from west to east,from Gambia to Djenne,Bobo Dioulasso and Kong,and about l000 km.from north to south,from Sokol° to the forest. As a summary of the argument,generally speaking, people who sacrifice animals upon "power objects"4 and communicate with ancestors through the apparition of masked or possessed dancers, may be called Bamana.The concept implies a type of relations between humanity and nature,and consequently a way of life. The term system would be too strong as it is certainly impossible to describe such a culture entirely.The work of most authors prior to 1980 tends to present Bamana culture as homogenous and harmonious(Henry 1913; Montei11932; Tauxier 1927; Dieterlen 1952;Zahan 1960). It is mainly by reading the footnotes and the appendixes that we learn how a particular cult or institution is localized in time and space. As the Bamana themselves say: Bee a n'a ka laada—each person has his customs. In the history of ideas, until twenty years ago,anthropologists were desperately trying to reach a global description of a

ence of Islam and its clerics as a historical force within the nineteenth century Bamana State of Segou, up to now considered as the "citadel of Paganism." As we have seen,Bamanaya,which goes thus far beyond an ethnic identity, crosses the relatively arbitrary boundaries between so-called Mandinka,Bambara, Marka, Bozo, Fula, Minyanka and even

some principles that can help us to under-

Senufo.3 Curiously enough,the creators of the ritual objects—masks,sculptures, boll—the blacksmiths, present themselves

stand the social life in the area we are considering, but we no longer think that any detail,any fragment has to express a unique

culture. All differences had to be reduced to a common vision, a common set of values,a style,a consistent and well-organized "patrimoine." We know better now that conflict and change are constitutive components of any culture and that social facts are permanently evolving. We still have to try to find



cultural system.We no longer believe that there should necessarily be a very deep level ("so deep that we are forced to imagine it," as Foucault said)from where the entire culture could be revealed. Any unity that we can reach through this process is, of course,of an interpretative nature. There is nothing such as one sole model, but rather different models,with lives and deaths, migrations, borrowings, switches,adaptations,transformations and mixings,and there is no point in trying to extrapolate in order to draw a "perfect" picture. Concerning the "art" production, we have realized relatively recently that many so called "traditional"cults were actually competing,and that some cults did not last more than a few decades.We don't know if the Jo complex,here studied in depth by Kate Ezra and Salia Male,is much older than the mid-nineteenth cen-

tion of their lives. While many ritual objects like masks and figures were labeled "art objects" by Western connoisseurs,scholars, and audiences,their meanings are primarily of a religious nature.This present volume and exhibition provide access to the Bamana practices and representations used to face the problems of life. According to Bamana concepts,the aspects of what appears to you in your life—ranging from the shape of the clouds to the song of the birds—are signs that must be interpreted. Moreover,through a vast array of divination systems,diviners and priests propose ritual actions—private or public—in order to eliminate negative factors,to improve the chances of good luck,or to appease some powerful deities. Bamana cults recognize both visible and invisible forces.The most powerful objects

tury, but it was amazingly productive in

are hidden from view,and the most secret rites, performed by no more than three or

terms of artistic expression. McNaughton rightly observes that we do not yet com-

four initiates, all well advanced in age and wisdom,are held at night,illuminated only

pletely understand the internal structure of the religious associations, but he emphasizes the fact that they can be a serious force in local affairs. James Brink

by straw torches. In contrast,the visible aspects form part of performances in which

also concludes by underlining the fact that art for the Bamana is a form of managing power. Initiation societies indeed form net-

session ritual may sometimes be seated like a Western audience, but they are hardly stuck to their chairs or forbidden to express

works of political alliances, which go beyond the village as shown here, in the text dedicated to the Kona, cult. For many people in Mali,even now

themselves.They move,they participate, they sing,dance,and offer sacrifices. In short,they live a unique experience with

all the members actively participate.Those who watch the arrival of a mask,or a pos-

despite the Muslim influence,all objects and beings contain an active energy called

each performance. That is why it seems important to include here the article by James Brink,who

nyama.Through secret knowledge acquired in initiation societies, Bamana claim to be able to act on this energy and to channel it. All actions of daily life (e.g.,

analysis of the meaning of artistic expression in Bamana society. As he puts it:"By means of the latter, we gain insight into the

the use of iron by a blacksmith,the cultivation of the fields,or the healing of the sick), rely on this secret expertise. Bamanaya is made of a diversity of beliefs,

system of thought within which art obtains its capacity to generate motion,emotion and a deep sense of personal and social

of religious practices,and philosophical options,that exist and are intelligible in a large area with local variations.These practices imply offerings and other rituals through which people influence the direc-

was one of the first to attempt a cultural

ideological foundations of art,that nuclear

identity among its users." The ritual casts participants on a stage which is removed from daily life; it creates a dislocated reality, where divine personages appear who transcend the forms of ordinary experience.

I 22


Mask performances accord a great importance to spectacle and movement,something which demands that we as researchers go beyond a purely descriptive documentation of the event,or an aesthetic approach that ignores performative aspects and the aesthetics of movement. A KOmo mask reaches the height of its expressiveness only in the flickering gleam of burning straw when its terrifying jaws are raised to the heavens.The !Como,Kano, and Nomakoro dances are based on the rhythmic principle of appearance and disappearance,of approach and retreat,of departure and return. Often the ritual

Bambara ethnography was originally French and rested upon the school of Marcel Griaule, who believed he could find the foundation chart for Sudanese societies in mythology. Later, Claude Meillassoux,JeanLoup Amselle and Jean Bazin called into question many of the early categories and pointed the way towards a more pragmatic anthropology.Several generations of American scholars have worked on the Mande-Bambara world.Often trained in other disciplines such as language & linguistics(Charles Bird),Islamic studies(Nehemia Levtzion), history(John 0.Hunwick,Rene Bravmann,David Conrad),art history(James

choreography plays upon the instability of forms,especially when the character itself is barely glimpsed,a bit like a hallucination

Brink,Kate Ezra, Patrick McNaughton,MaryJo Arnoldi,Sarah Brett-Smith),they have enriched anthropological research by taking

or a phantom.s This aspect of the barely the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead—is what distinguishes

a less dogmatic approach,one that pays close attention to the contextualization of oral texts and recognizes a more flexible cosmology than what had been described by the

these ritual performances from entertain-

French school of ethnography.

seen—like when awesome wild spirits blur

ment such as Sogow and Koteba.The believer's experience is ebullient,totally engaged,speaking to and interacting with the god,commenting upon the performance,arguing and joking with his friends,and sometimes having too much to drink.

We thank the Museum for African Art, New York,and Museum Rietberg,Zurich,for giving us the opportunity to publish this volume, modest,certainly in light of the wealth of the subject, but nonetheless permitting us to measure the distance we have come since the pioneering work of Robert Goldwater in 1960.

NOTES 1. Bazin 1985,104;Tauxier 1942,33-35,54-57; Raffenel 1856,vol.1,363-365. 2. Park1971,96-97; Raffene11856,vol.1,423. 3. The Senufo group is also a very debatable historical construct.The Senufo who practice the Poro initiation cycle present specific features, but the ones who do not, have largely adopted Manding religious practices. For the various meanings of the term,see Richter 1980. 4. This expression is used by Bazin and McNaughton to designate the boliw, powerful objects embodying the powers of deities and to which missionaries referred to asfetishes. 5. In her work on Baule art,Susan Vogel notes that "the normal state of sacred sculpture is that it is covered from view." See her interesting chapter on "Art,darkness and visual Memory"(Vogel 19n).



Pilgrim fajigi and basiw from Mecca: Islam and traditional religion in the former French Sudan


Islam Arrives in Mande Now thefirst mori man ofMande, Who opened the door on the people ofMande, He was Tombonon Manjan Mile% He is the ancestor of the Berete in Mande. The home ofthe Berete people is Farisini Hejaji, In the land ofMecca. (Djanka Tassey Conde of Fadama,recorded at Fadama,Guinea 1994)' The first Mande people to become acquainted with Islam were Soninke of the Sahelian state known to Arab travelers as Ghana, but locally as Wagadu.In the seventh and eight centuries Arab expeditions had begun to penetrate the Sahara desert from southern Morocco,and by the tenth century, Muslim traders from North Africa


Griot in action.

events. According to the professional bards (jeliw) of Mande,when Sunjata Keita was conquering his enemies and establishing the foundations of the Mali Empire,there was a Muslim presence that included five Soninke families known as the mori kandaw.' In Sunjata's day the most promi-

who were based in the commercial center of Awdaghust in the southern Sahara (pre-

nent of these were the Berete led by Tombonon Manjan who is said to have been their spokesman (Conrad 1999:83).

sent-day Mauritania), were conducting

Tombonon Manjan Berete's distinction

business with the Soninke. By the middle of the eleventh century,the geographer alBakri was reporting that the capital of

derived from his close relationship with Sunjata. He served as the king's adviser (Conrad 1999134ff.),and was the father of

Ghana included a separate Muslim town containing many mosques(Levtzion and

Sansuma,Sunjata's first wife and the mother of his eldest son Dankaran Tuman.In

Hopkins 1981:79). From Ghana/Wagadu, Islam gradually spread southward over a broad area that included the Mande heartland in what is now southern Mali and northeastern Guinea, between the Sankarani and Milo Rivers which flow

modern times virtually every village of Mande has its mori,and the seminal link between Sunjata Keita and the Berke is still expressed at the septennial ceremony renewing the sacred shrine known as the

northward into the Niger. Following the dispersion of Muslims,the next phase of

Kamablon at Kangaba,Mali. Berete moriw take a leading role in the restoration of the animist shrine,signifying the centuries-old

the spread of Islam began with Muslim

accommodation of Islam and the

clerics communicating with the host kings (Levtzion 2000:64).Some episodes of

indigenous system of belief in Mande (Meillassoux 1968:175-182). According to the

Mande oral tradition involving Muslims

Arab historian Ibn Khaldun,there were

and kings correspond to the Arabic sources'accounts of thirteenth-century

Malian kings both before and after Sunjata who made the pilgrimage to Mecca



(Levtzion and Hopkins 1981:322-323), but there is no particular association of Sunjata himself with Islam. In Mande epic

being integrated into Mande society.There were certain aspects of Islamic worship that readily meshed with traditional Mande spir-

tradition,the spiritual dimensions of

ituality.The Muslims'frequent praying was

Sunjata and other charismatic leaders of his day, both male and female,are expressed through their powers of sorcery (Conrad 1999189-224). After more than three centuries of dominating a vast portion of the western Sudan extending from the Niger Bend to the Atlantic coast, Mali lost its control over the great cities of Djenne,Timbuktu,and other centers that had assured its control of trans-Saharan trade routes linking it with the greater Muslim world. Nehemia Levtzion describes this as a time when Mali's capital was deserted by the foreign Muslim community: As more ethnic groups escaped the domination of Mali, the kingdom gradually contracted back to its Malinke nucleus and the traditional particularistic spirit of the Malinke nation triumphed over the universal supratribal appeal of Islam. Muslim divines remained attached to the courts of the successor states of Mali and continued to render religious service to those minor kings, but the latter lost the

not so foreign to the worldview of people who were steeped in ritual process and reluctant to undertake anything in daily life without accounting for its impact on the spirit world. Muslim ablutions before prayer were not far out of the ordinary in a culture where occult protection for young and old was routinely acquired by dipping medicinal potions(basiw)from clay pots. In Mande society no blacksmith man or woman built a furnace to smelt iron, worked at the forge, gathered clay for pots or felled a tree to create a ritual sculpture without making the proper sacrifices. No farmer shouldered a hoe, no midwife prepared for delivery, no youth approached a prospective in-law, no canoe man embarked on the river, no healer gathered herbs, no hunter entered the forest, no trader entered the market, no musician handled an instrument, no warrior went into battle,and no craftsperson of any kind picked up a tool without indicating,at least mentally if not in manifest ritual, an appropriate degree of respect for the spirits involved. Literacy was not necessarily an issue in the non-Muslim's perception of the Ouran

Islamic zeal and appearance of the fourteenth-century kings of Mali. The

for which the "people of the book"demon-

Malinke chiefs returned to the middle position between Islam and the traditional religion, with a greater inclination

strated such reverence. Here was a palpable object weighted with layer upon layer of enigmatic symbols representing a vast

toward the latter.(LEVTZION 2000:67-68). Levtzion explains that Muslims in the service of Islamized rulers became integrated into the social and political system of the state. He describes them as"pious and observant believers" who"had to tol-

reservoir of spiritual power from beyond the Sahara,instantly recognizable as a strangers' basi.3 Contributing to local recognition of this formidable icon was the oral discourse emanating from it via the Muslim initiates' murmuring that closely resembled local priests'incantations known as kilissi.

part in ceremonies in which pre-Islamic

Moreover,each Arabic syllable was accompanied by the fingering of prayer beads that are similar to the tafo,a series of knots on a

rites were performed"(Levtzion 1973:200). What Levtzion is describing here is part of the process of "Africanization" of Islam that occurred during the centuries when the introduced religion was gradually

string,each representing a kilissi.4 As for the concept of pilgrimage to a sacred site,this was as old as the hunters'associations,the most ancient brotherhoods in Mande,with their custom of the dalimasigi.The dalimasi-

erate the more diluted forms of Islam as practiced by their chiefs,and even to take


gi is a journey undertaken by a young hunter leaving home for a period ranging

tern of life-crisis associations with accompanying rituals, and initiation societies(low)

from a single dry season to three years. He goes in search of adventure and to hunt,

like the Komi)(Maninka Kama)that were of

but most of all for knowledge,reputation and fortune (Cashion 1984,vol.1:113, 24o). Another kind of sacred journey familiar to Mande populations is the quest for spiritual power, protective medicine and occult knowledge described in Mande epic tradition. In one example the infant Fakoli, a future general of Sunjata's army,is carried on an initiation pilgrimage to all of the

profound social and political significance. The Kama, Nyagwan, Ntomo, Nama,Kore and others are village organizations that functioned as regulators and protectors of the community,and as intermediaries between the temporal and spiritual worlds (Henry 1910:105-156; Monteil 1924:234-287; Tauxier 1927:272-337; Dieterlen 1951:142-145; Pacques 1954:84-87;Zahan1960:240-255,

instruction, acquire his dalilu (secret

1974:9-32; McNaughton 1979:4-23; Imperato 1983:33-43; Colleyn and Clippe11998:91-176). The latter function involved the use of

recipe), and otherwise prepare for his role as"ancestor" of all later sorcerers(Conrad

boliw, portable altars used in ritual sacrifice,'some of which are claimed to


have been brought from Mecca in the Fajigi tradition that is described below. As it

great power sources of Mande to receive

Traditional Religion, Bamana Basiw,and the Segou State

applies to Bamana culture in particular,the significance of the claim that the boliw were brought from Mecca cannot be appreciated without an awareness of the impor-

"If anyone spoils this alliance, may the

tance of these objects as sources of power

four great boliw ofSegou not spare them."

and as elements of control in everyday tra-

(Tayiru Banbera of Ngoin, recorded at

ditional Bamana society.

Segou, Mali 1976)5 The non-Muslim elements of the

Historically, Bamana culture was distinguished from other Mandekan peoples such as the Soninke and Maninka,by the relative-

Mande belief system now,as in the past, involve ubiquitous spirits dwelling in trees, rock formations,caves, holes in the

ly slow progress that Islam was able to

ground, bodies of water,and empty

Soninke origin were present in the Bamana Segou state beginning with the time of its

stretches of savanna between the villages. The most conspicuous water deity is Faro, with lesser spirits known generally as

make against local traditional religion. Muslim families who were mostly of

founder, Mamary Biton Kulubali (c.1712-

faarow orjidenw (water children) and they

but the rulers(faamaw)and most of the population continued in the traditional

occupy both the watery depths and the

system of belief until the burning of the

riverbanks. Nowadays the spirits are usually referred to collectively as djinn (genies),

boliw and forced conversions following the Islamic conquest of Al-Hajj Umar in 1861.7 There were Muslims in Segou from the time

though there were various names for them in former times. In addition to the above-mentioned water spirits,these included gnena,kungofen (thing of the bush),gate, bilissi and wokilo,to name a

of its founding, but the four great boliw were the cornerstones of the state religion and power structure,and the profound faith in their protective qualities doubtless had a

few (Henry 1910:82,115; Conrad 1990:67, 70; Brett-Smith 1994:59,130,272).

good deal to do with the Bamana's extended resistance to Islam. A Segoufaama could

Traditional religion's daily expression

not govern without control of the four great

involves rituals associated with farming, fishing, hunting,and blacksmithing,a sys-

boliw, which were critical to the acquisition and maintenance of political power.The cere-



mony of swearing in a new ruler consisted

of any material.There is no satisfactory

of blood sacrifices and oaths sworn over the boliw in a special location outside of Segou,

English equivalent of basi,so it tends to be inadequately translated as"medicine." However,there are objects of ill intention

and when afaama changed residences the power objects moved with him (Conrad 199o:131). The best remembered of the Segou boliw are Bakungoba (Big Forest Mother) and Nangoloko (Birth Business).The sources are inconsistent on the others,variously mentioning Nyedingedu, Kontoron,

that are also basiw,such as Ithrote(poisons and the agents used to send and apply them).In Mande society, ritual objects are commissioned and created to achieve practical goals in a world offering enemies,danger and failure on the one hand,with friends, security and success on the other. Discussing

Binyejugu and Safolo (Henry 1910:138-139; Monteil 1924:256; Kamara and Ndiaye

the process of creating a basi,Sarah Brett-

1978:470; Bazin 1986:262; Conrad 1990:132). Discrepancies might be owing

that is instrumental in fulfilling a need":

to the fact that in addition to the principal boliw of Segou there were many of only slightly less importance,with some eclips-

Smith defines it as"any substance or object

Boliw (foreground) and pots ofbasiw in a healer's home near Bamako, Mali. Photo: David Conrad, 2000.

Creating a basi, or "working" on a natural substance to endow it with power, requires that the ritual specialist or sculptor under-

ing others at various junctures.' In addition to state-owned boliw and those

forces believed to be continually at work in

belonging to initiation societies,there were great numbers of them in the pos-

the world of the dead and of spirits. Whether they consist of powdered leaves

session of individuals (fig.7).The boliw

or imposing sculptures, basiw are actually

receive sacrifices in order to call upon and

vehicles, material objects that condense

influence the vital spiritual force known as

and channel the otherworldly powers that fulfill human needs (BRETT-SMITH 1994:25).

nya ma.Boliw can be fashioned of virtually any kind of material including wood, bark,


take physical procedures that rearrange the

stones,tree roots,leather, metal,cloth, bone, hair,animal tails and claws,and

As one of the most essential of basiw, the boll has been described on a cosmologi-

human ingredients including blood,excre-

cal level as both a symbol of the universe

ment, placentas,and pieces of corpse (Henry 1910:140-141; Monteil 1924:253,270;

and a receptacle of the forces that animate the universe. It is, moreover,an intermediary

Dieterlen 1951:92; Cisse1985:14; BrettSmith 1994:23; Colleyn and Clippel 1998:123). Alternatively,the boll does not

that permits communication with the ancestor or supernatural power whose force permeates it (Dieterlen 1951:92-93). As

have to be manufactured. In certain cir-

repositories of enormous spiritual power or

cumstances as we shall see below,a previously formed object like a canoe,a kettle, a leather bag,or a book can assume the

nya ma,boliw are viewed with awe and fear. They were traditionally the most essential instruments of communication between

character and function of a boll once it is anointed with a blood sacrifice. All spiritually endowed objects and

earthly mortals and the supernatural powers that control nyama,and as such,according to Sarah Brett-Smith,they are an impor-

healing materials including medicinal herbs and potions as well as the pots, bot-

tant part of the Bamana judicial structure, inanimate objects to which the Bamana

tles and jars that hold them,are referred

community entrusts its decision making.

to by the collective term basi.The same is

She describes them as"magical judges"that

true of protective charms and amulets,divination tools and symbols,all sorcerers' equipment including their tunics or sudulokiw (fig. 8), boliw, masks,and sculptures

"hear cases,evaluate evidence,divine the guilty and eliminate them." It is to these inanimate objects that the Bamana community entrusts its decision-making (Brett-


FIG.8 A healer with pots and containers ofbasiw in his home near Bamako, Mali, wearing his suduloki (sorcerer's tunic) draped with several kinds of basiw. Photo: David Conrad, 2000.

Smith 1983:47). But if basiw in general are

ferent times in various locations,as Islam

such enormously potent objects in a

became well enough established for stories from Arab tradition to become familiar to

Bamana religious and social system that was at odds with Islam for centuries,why does tradition claim that the most essential of them originated in Mecca? Before attempting an answer,we need to take a look at the legend itself.

Pilgrim Fajigi and Religious Syncretism in Mande

community raconteurs. As Islam became increasingly familiar,even the Prophet Muhammad,as well as characters and episodes from his life and times came to be woven into the fabric of the most important myths and legends of the Mande peoples (Conrad 1985:33-49). At the same time that Islamic elements from abroad were finding their way into local oral accounts,the western Sudan was

They arrived at Mecca on the ban market day, So Fajiki did. Tafo-i were circulating everywhere in the market. Basi-i were rolling around everywhere in the market. The'Coma chests were jostling each other. Ah, people, Jiki was astonished. There was no suya in Mande. There was no Nyagwako in Mande.

engendering its own Muslim heroes,among whom were some early Malian rulers(mansaw)who undertook the arduous transSaharan pilgrimage to Mecca.One of the most prominent of these was Mansa Musa, who made his historic journey in 1324. Mansa Musa's pilgrimage made such a deep impression on the Muslims of the Middle East that it was well documented by Arab chroniclers,'" and it thereby occupies a conspicuous place in the history offourteenthcentury West Africa. Although Mansa Musa

There was no Namako in Mande. There was no Kbnbkb in Mande. There was no Nya in Mande. There was no Kbmako in Mande. There was no kbrbte in Mande. All these came with N'Fajiki.

other Malian chiefs of state," his pilgrimage caused the greatest stir owing to the large numbers in his retinue and his extravagant spending of gold in Egypt (Levtzion and

He brought them from Mecca. (Seydou Camara of Kabaya, recorded at

known for his spirit of penitence and devotion,and his pilgrimage was recorded in

Bamako 1975)'

several Egyptian chronicles as one of the

Throughout the centuries when Islam

principal events of the year (Levtzion 1973:209-210). It seems safe to say that this pilgrimage was similarly important for

was becoming part of Mande religion,the bards (jeliw) who are specialists in the oral arts of the Mande peoples including the Bamana and Maninka,were assimilating elements of Islamic tradition. It is impossi-

was preceded to Mecca by at least two

Hopkins 1981:271,351).The mansa was

Mansa Musa's subjects back in Mali,and in fact it seems possible that it could have given rise to the legend of Fajigi,the general outline of which appears to be based on

ble to say when characters from Muslim literature began to appear in oral narrative, but there is evidence to suggest that

An essential feature of the Fajigi legend is the paradoxical claim that the mansa

ancestors of thefunew who are bards specializing in Islamic discourse may have adopted that occupation in Ghana/

who was most famous for his devotion to Islam was at the same time the one who provided his subjects with the essential

Wagadu (Conrad 1995:86). Local

paraphernalia of the ancestral non-Islamic Mande religion. Focusing on the Islamic side of the picture, Nehemia Levtzion observes

awareness of Islamic characters in Mande oral discourse probably developed at dif-

Mansa Musa's pilgrimage.'



that "the Pilgrimage increased the king's prestige in the eyes of the Muslims in the empire and bestowed on him an emanating blessing (baraka) which was respected by Muslims and non-Muslims alike" (Levtzion 1973:209). From the traditional non-Muslim point of view,to suggest that the baraka deriving from Mansa Musa's pilgrimage was respected by his nonMuslim subjects probably understates the case. Upon examining the cumulative evidence of all available variants of the tradition,the pilgrimage emerges, not at all as a triumph of faithful Islamic endeavor, but as a boon for indigenous modes of worship. In his collective manifestations,the protagonist of the legend is an ambiguous figure:3 Some variants identify the pilgrim not as Fajigi, but as Fakoli,a major character in the Sunjata epic (Conrad 1992:152and elsewhere the pilgrimage is made by an anonymous group of young traders (Henry1910:131-132).The Fajigi legend corresponds only very roughly to the pilgrimage of Mansa Musa as the latter has been pieced together from the written Arabic sources.Taken by themselves and at face value,the individual oral texts are virtually worthless as sources of information about the historical deeds of Mansa Musa,something that is unusually clear in this case because the oral traditions can be checked against the relatively substantial external written accounts. However, Fajigi has not remained one of the standard heroes simply because generations of bards have been eager to preserve the memory of a


announced the "legitimate" origin of various autochthonous ritual institutions.The message might not have been part of a conscious agenda, but on the other hand it could reflect an element of conflict and/or resolution at some historical juncture such

pilgrimage by a pious mansa,though this probably did have something to do with the tradition's origin.The Fajigi legend endured partly because it was an entertaining story about a heroic quest that

as the Islamic conquest of animist Segou in 1861. More generally,one suspects that the syncretistic message evolved as an uncon-

Mande audiences could appreciate,and in the process it also became an expression of accommodation between indigenous

scious by-product of the process of assimilating Islam into local daily life. In any case, within the broad corpus of Mande oral tra-

religious practices and Islam. At some point in the long history of interaction between Muslims and animists, it appears to have emerged as a means by which,at least for a time, Mande traditionalists

dition,the Fajigi legend ultimately came to constitute the clearest statement of local perceptions about the relationship of indigenous belief to Islam. The narrative commences with Fajigi


Mosque in a village ofrhe Debo Lake area, 1999.

desiring to atone for a sin, usually murder or, as in the variant by Seydou Camara (fig. lo),incest with his mother. After consulting the diviners to learn what he must do to atone for his crime,Fajigi undertakes a pilgrimage to Mecca.On arrival he is

Mande he distributes some of the basiw to the people who help him. Upon reaching the rivers of Mali, Fajigi uses a magic canoe

received by the"priest of pagans"(Zobel 1996:632),and visits the market to acquire

to transport the basiw. When the canoe encounters rough waters,some of the cargo

every kind of basiw including the boliw of Mande initiation societies.'4 As seen at the

falls into the river and is transformed into various creatures such as electric fish and

beginning of this section,Seydou Camara

scorpions:9Arriving at home,the location of

mentioned several initiation societies,

which varies according to individual infor-

while many variants lay particular stress

earliest variants collected makes it plain that the protagonist is of secondary

mants,'6the canoe sinks to the bottom of the lake or river where it remains to this day, itself a powerful boll that receives periodic offerings. Fragments of that vessel seem to have acquired a significance similar to splin-

importance to the idea of basiw being

ters of the"one true cross" in Medieval

acquired in Mecca.In this case,instead of Fajigi going to Mecca,it is a group of

Christian tradition,as elsewhere in Mande it is claimed that the bases of some Komi)

young traders. Here the idea of pagan ritual in the heart of Islam is a dominant

altars contain bits of wood said to be from

motif, with the use of boliw by powerful Bamana priests at Mecca being described in some detail (Henry 1910:1311-34. With similar emphasis on the presence of

The traditional values that spawned the pilgrimage legend are illuminated by incidents involving other spiritually imbued objects. For example,in the 185os a French

Bamana ritual in the heart of the Islamic stronghold,another variant claims that in Mecca "al-Hajj Musa"fails to obtain par-

traveler was the guest of a blacksmith named Niani in the Bamana state of Kaarta. One day Niani complained that members of

don for his sins,so he turns to the study of

the Frenchman's African escort were dip-

magic and trades his miraculous shirt for the Komo (Monteil 1924:270). In one vari-

ping water from the household supply. When asked why this troubled him,the host angrily replied that he was not a Muslim, and when Muslims dipped into his house-

on KOmo (Ly-Ta111977:194; Moraes Farias 1989157; Zobe11996:632-633). One of the

FIG. io

A narrator ofthe "Pilgrim Fajigi"tradition, the hunter's singer, Seydou Camara ofWasulu, playing the hunter's harp (dons째 ngoni). Photo: David Conrad, Bamako, Mali, 1975.

religion sprouted in the same soil that engendered Islam.

ant collected by D.Traore, Makanta Jigi resolves to go to Mecca,the reputation of which comme ville aux idoles de toutes sortes,etait parvenue au Soudan. In another, Makanta Jigi is accepted into Islam by the Prophet himself and is blessed with instant and complete knowledge of the Ouran. However he soon meets the chefdu quartierfetichiste de La Mecque and is presented with all the most prestigious boliw of the Mande spirit societies,and he hastens to renounce Islam in favor of the ancestral religion (Traore 1947:23-24). It should be stressed that nowhere in the available texts does the Fajigi tradition claim that the basiw acquired in Mecca were derived from Islam.The message is that power objects of indigenous Mande

As the hero returns through the lands of

Makanta Jigi's canoe (Dieterlen1951:148):7

hold water pot with the kettle (satala) that they used for their ablutions,the family water supply became sanctified by its contact with the Islamic container. Niani explained that he and his children drank that water,and since they did not pray or fast, and because they ate pork,God would punish them.The smith's father had taught him that any water touched by a Muslim's kettle made a "marabout"of the person who drank it (Raffene11856,1:311).This was apparently not an isolated concept, because more than a century later,a Maninka bard spoke similarly of "pilgrim water"in connection with theland of basi,"saying"This story should also mention /aji water,the water



that never gets hot"(Conrad 1999b:175). Nowadays in the streets of Bamako, diviners can be seen combining cowries with the Ouran to practice their art,and in the centuries since Mansa Musa's pilgrimage,certain Islamic relics have seen service as boliw.Some ofthem could have functioned as family or village institutions for many generations and still have died out so long ago as to be now forgotten.Still within memory is the legacy of Bemba Kamara,Muslim ancestor of the Kamara

eties did figure in Mansa Musa's power base, this would probably have been more a matter of influence on his part,than of outright control. If the societies were a significant social force then as they were in later times,the influence most likely flowed,not from the mansa to them,but from them on behalf ofthe mansa into other elements ofthe population. Nehemia Levtzion has suggested that the tradition of the Komo being brought from Mecca indicates that the spirit society may

lineage of Selefoukou south of Kangaba. He

have been revitalized during the apogee of the Mali Empire (Levtzion 1972:16). Others

is said to have returned from Mecca with books that were left to his descendants,and at some point these were individually sewn

agree that the tradition points to a renewal of the societies during Mansa Musa's era,and that this may have been the time when they

into permanent leather cases and consecrated as boliw.'s In the ensuing years,the boliw received so many blood offerings that a hard

were crystallized into their present form (Dieterlen 1951:92; Person 1970:81; Cisse 1980:5). If Komo and other societies were

shell wasformed around them,which is thought to have preserved them. Unfortunately these boliw that are said to have originated in Mecca were destroyed in

renewed or revitalized during the reign of Mansa Musa,it would have required a means of exercising authority over them and a com-

1914 when a marabout converted the Selefoukou people to Islam and removed the booksfrom their coverings(Cisse 1964:217). It is interesting to speculate that the Kamara ancestor might have been one of Mansa Musa's companions on the pilgrimage:9 Some writers who accept Fajigi as the legendary representation of Mansa Musa, interpret the tradition of procuring the boliw as indicating that the mansa sought to control the spirit societies,especially the powerful Kenn& though it is unclear how they think he would have done this (Trimingham 1959:107;Person 1970,1:81, n. 62)20 Mansa Musa must have faced a dilemma as the Muslim ruler of a predominantly non-Muslim state with his authority continuing to be based on pre-Islamic traditional values. Despite his reputation for piety, he was probably not an entirely unqualified Muslim (Levtzion 1971a:36),finding it desirable to occupy a position somewhere in the middle.Providing the Kamb or other societies supported the mansa,they might have served him in some useful capacity such as village-level law enforcement.But if the soci-

munication network among the initiation societies.The boll "family relationships" reported by Brett-Smith (1983:50)'indicate that something of that nature might have existed,at least on a regional level. If traditional religion did receive new impetus during the fourteenth century,Islam could have been the source. An increasingly powerful Islamic presence could have stimulated ideological and ritual adjustments in the practices of Komi)and other societies,leaving them stronger than they were prior to the time of significant impactfrom the foreign religion. If so,it may have occurred in a haphazard fashion,influenced by a perceived threat from the mystery of Islamic power,but at the same time attracted by the prospect oftapping into that power source.The Fajigi tradition appears to be a function ofsuch ambiguity,with received versions being by-products ofthe "Sudanization"or "Africanization"of Islam (Monteil 1924:331; Levtzion 1973:200). Although it was probably not consciously designed to do so,at some point the Fajigi legend began to represent the blurring of boundaries between traditional religion and Islam.

1 32






4. 5. 6.







Excerpt from Conrad (ed.) Great Sogolon's House:Mande Epicfrom the Conde ofFadama (Guinea). Forthcoming. mori kandow:The five mori(Fr. marabout)clans that oral traditionalists claim were the first Muslim families in Mande.In oral tradition the five names most often mentioned are Berke, Ture,Jane,Silla and Cisse.The bards often just mention the five mori clans" without giving their names(Conrad 1999:151,175), and sometimes they substitute one name for another or leave part of a name out, but for the most part the lists are consistent. Jeli Mori Kouyate of Niagassola lists the mori ancestors Ferebori Diane,Serimankane Toure,Tomono Manya Berete, Karisi Manden Mori,and Serikuma Silla (Conrad 1999:66). "strangers' basi": basi dunun. A basi is any spiritually endowed object or healing material used to fulfill a human need (Brett-Smith 1994:25). kilissi: Incantation. Excerpt from the epic of Bamana Segou in Conrad 1990:132. There are some unusually large boliw that require several men to lift (Jonckers 1993:82-83; Colleyn and Clippe11998:123). This is not to say that after the Tukulor conquest,all Bamana became Muslim and stopped having anything to do with traditional modes of spirit communication and use of boliw. Seydou Drame lists eight other important boliw of Segou that were present during the reign of Faama Da Jara (1808-1827): Kurunikunkele, Neribatokala, Menjugubato,Alatekaraba, Galobali, Dakungobali,Cakobara,and Nanfle (Kesteloot 1972,VOL 2:39). Excerpt from a bi-lingual edition of Seydou Camara's"Fajiki" in Conrad and Camara forthcoming.On the authority of Seydou's son Sekou,the spelling is "Fajiki"in the Wasulunke dialect of Maninka (var. Malinke). Tafo-i is a basiw in the form of knotted lengths of twine symbolizing kilissiw(incantations).The -i indicates plural, a Wasulu variant of the Bamana w and the Maninka lu. For basi,see n.3. sup:contraction of subaya which is in turn a contraction of subagaya,one of the terms for sorcery. Nyagwako:The Nyagwan initiation society. Nomako:The Noma initiation society. Kona& The Kano initiation society. Nya:An initiation society. Kornako:The Koma initiation society(Bamana Komo). karate: Any kind of poison and the means of sending it to the victim,e.g., via a magic dart or a flying insect. Al-'Umari,Ibn Battuta,Ibn Khaldun and AlMagrizi (Levtzion and Hopkins 1981:267-272, 295-299,323-341,351-355). Mansa Wali,son of Sunjata (126o-77),and Sakura (ca.1300);on the question of preSunjata pilgrimages see Triaud i968. The tradition appears to have been engendered in the fourteenth century,though the name "Fajigi" or variants thereof fail to appear before the colonial era and earliest accounts probably



15. 16.

differed greatly from those presently known. Variants naming the hero as"Jigi Musa"or"AlHajj Musa"(Adam 1903:354; Monteil 1924:270) suggest conscious derivation from Mansa Musa's pilgrimage but there are numerous facets to the tradition,and when viewed from alternative angles,the relationship of the legendary hero to the historic ruler can be elusive. Some variants of the legend clearly distinguish between Makanta Jigi and Mansa Musa (e.g. Camara 1978:258).The only correspondence between Arab sources and Mande legend is that both Mansa Musa and Fajigi went to Mecca,the former purchasing works on Muslim law to take back to Mali (Levtzion and Hopkins 1981:270-271),the latter returning with assorted basiw. However,the account of Mansa Musa's journey in the Taiikh al-Fattash draws on oral tradition of seventeenth-century Timbuktu (see Levtzion 1971b:571-593),so it fits somewhere between the earlier written Arabic sources and the legend as we know it. Legendary figures in Mande oral tradition are often comprised of adaptable composites that are altered according to the knowledge,purpose,whim,or error of narrators along the line of transmission. Fajigi is the most common Bamana sound while the Wasulunke variant from the hunters' bard Seydou Camara is Fajiki. Many of the pilgrim hero's names roughly translated present Fajigi as some variant of "Our Father of Hope Who Went to Mecca," though each of the originals has its own individual significance: M'Fa Jigi, Makanta Djigui, Digui Moussa,El Hadj Moussa,Jinna Musa,ligi Taa Musa,Haji Taa Musa,Hiji-Taa-Musa,"Djigui Makan Djigui,""Boli Mansa Jigi,"Kaabace Jigi," "Allakoi Moussa Dyigui",and the most poetic, "Dark and Bright Hajji"(Adam 1903:354; Delafosse 1913:298; MOOLeil 1924:270;Traore 1947:24; Dieterlen 1951:92; Meillassoux 1957:12; Innes 1974:209; Cisse1975:75; Ly-Tall 1977:194; Johnson 1979 vol. 2:217-18; Brett-Smith 1996:27ff;Zobel 1996:632-633; Fanyama Diabate,Bamako 1975 and Boubou Kale, Ngama 1976 field recordings in Conrad 1981 vol. 2:726, 756). In one variant the hero who brings the basiw is simply Mansa Kuru,"Canoe Chief" (Conrad 1990:86-87).Several distinctive variants were collected by YoussoufTata Cisse: "N'Fa Dyiguiba,"N'Fa Dyimba,"Dyitoumou Bala,"Dyitoumou Moussa,"Faraba Kongo Moussa,"and "Mansa Kankoun Moussa."(Cisse 1980:5-7). For a list of Kama names see Zobel 1996:635. One variant claims the basiw numbered over a thousand (Frobenius 1925:339-40).On the question of idolatry in Mecca and Medina see Guillaume1955:35-38,207-208. For details of the objects'transformation see Tayiru Banbera in Conrad 1990:87-88. Koura near Narena, Mali(Montei11924:270); Tikko on the Niger (Dieterlen 1951:92) Nora near Siguiri, Guinea (Traore1947:24;Tera 1980:219; Conrad 1981 vol. 2:726,756).

17. Dieterlen also discovered that Makanta Jigi's name is cited during various rituals,especially !Como ceremonies (1951:92). 18. Bemba Kamara's dates are unknown,but local legend makes the audacious claim that he made seven pilgrimages to Mecca. 19. Could these boliw have survived from the first half of the fourteenth century until 1914? A multitude of destructive factors in West Africa would come to bear on such relics over almost six centuries, but high quality paper sewn into leather,encased in an airtight carapace of dried blood and protected by local priests may have survived for a very long time,The loss of the Selefoukou relics is especially regrettable because an analysis of the paper on which the books were either hand-written or printed might have provided approximate dates of the ancestor's pilgrimage. Paper made in early phases of the industry was generally superior to later products,and the science of papermaking and printing was sufficiently advanced in the Middle East by the fourteenth century that any books brought back to Mali by Mansa Musa would have been of high quality material(see Hunter 1943). zo. A problem with that idea,is that it is not clear that Kama or any other initiation society had the kind of centralized organization that could have been subject to government control. An important characteristic of these societies has been their lack of centralization.The Kama of one village is normally independent ofthe Kama in the next village,and there can be great rivalry between communities concerning whose Kama is the oldest and most powerful (Tauxier 1927:272-273). On the other hand,if a village lacks a Korn& which many now do,they can have affiliations with the!Como in a neighboring village (Dieterlen 1951:144). It seems possible that certain degrees of centralized control might have been wielded via the relationships between families of boliw. Early in the 19005 a missionary reported that boliw were usually owned in groups and that"father"and "mother" boliw reproduce themselves(Henry 1910:151).Seventy years later, Brett-Smith learned of boliw that had been purchased from neighboring villages. Her informants could trace the ancestry of those objects several generations back,reciting the names of the villages that had sold the ritual objects until they reached the grandfather or great-grandfather boli.The informants knew the personal names of the boliw that made up this genealogy,and perceived them as having parents and relatives. Brett-Smith concluded that the genealogy of a boli could be the key to understanding the ritual and political links between villages,since a village that possesses the"father" boli for an entire region often makes political decisions for that region (Brett-Smith 1983:50). 21. See n.20.




Islamic Ritual and Practice in Bamana Segou* the 19th century "Citadel of Paganism"


"Sego, the capital of Bambarra...consists offour distinct towns; two on the northern bank of the Niger, called Sego Korro, and Sego Boo; and two on the southern bank, called Sego Soo Korro, and Sego See Korro. They are all surrounded with high mud-walls; the houses are built of clay, of a square form, with flat roofs; some of them have two stories, and many of them are whitewashed. Besides these buildings, Moorish mosques are seen in every quarter." MUNGO PARK, 1796

"The young marabout who did the blessings for the battle of Kore [Monzon Jara's war against Dugakoro of Kore] was Mamadu Bisiri. He was a dafin master. The people ofSegu went to tell him that they wanted to attack Kore." TAY1RU BANBERA , 1976

"Islam prospers during peaceful eras. In itself it is not in the least antipathetic to pagans; on the contrary the Bambara live harmoniously with the faithful, who,for their part, successfully accommodate their form of Islam to local native customs." CHARLES MONTE1L, 1924

For many Africa nists,especially those


Djenne Mosque. 1999. FIG.12 Portal of"the ancestors"showing reciprocal influence of Islam and Bamanaya on architecture. Nyizensso, 1994.

interested in the arts,the Bamana have come to be seen as a classic example of "traditional" Sudanic civilization,a conser-

suggests,furthermore,that unless we begin to take into account the enduring impact of this faith and how it forms a part of the very definition of Bamanaya,we will never

vative inward-looking society offarmers

truly be able to engage the artistry and

and artists largely unaffected by those forces that have shaped much of Malian history. It is becoming increasingly obvious, however,that this naive and romantic view is merely an illusion,a creation by those in search of an "authentic" Africa. This essay attempts to reveal the presence of one such historical force,Islam and its

character of Bamana civilization.

clerics,specifically within the nineteenth century Bamana state of Segou. it

The Bamana are,of course,the very same people we knew as Bambara in the -1,96os and 19705,a name then fully accepted within academic and museum circles. They were a most remarkable society,a people living in the middle Niger Valley that had somehow resisted the full thrust of Islamic religious renewal,the holy wars of the nineteenth century,and subsequent




French imperialism and colonization. For those of us interested in the arts of Africa they appeared nothing short of heroic,a

linked so completely to this particular people in the French mind, I believe,also stems from the role the culture played in the mid-

culture that had managed to survive those raging events while remaining faithful to an artistic tradition based upon ancient precepts and values. An important exhibi-

dle Niger Valley during the nineteenth century. It is part of the legacy surrounding the

tion of Bambara sculpture opened in 1960 at the fledgling Museum of Primitive Art, that small and stately brownstone on West 54th St. which wasjust beginning to make an impression on the New York art world. Regarded as a landmark event in its day,the exhibition and catalog,curated and written by Robert Goldwater,(the eminent art historian and director of the museum),surely serve as a testament to a more innocent time. In a reminiscent mood, I decided to revisit my old copy of Goldwater's classic,Bambara Sculpture from the Western Sudan.and even now, I am impressed by the essay's quiet and

powerful Kingdom of Segou,the last "pagan"stronghold to resist the Holy War of Al Hajj UmarTal;fiercely independent,it finally capitulated in 1861, when Umarian troops stormed the walls and entered its capital,Segou. For Muslims the conquest of this city,the "citadel of paganism," was the ultimate triumph for those who had fought "in the path of God."The losers would be remembered well into the twentieth century as the ultimate infidels and identified as the"Bambara." But were the Bamana the quintessential unbelievers? Was the "citadel of paganism" the impregnable domain of animism that the sources have led us to believe? As is evi-


Hunter's shirt with amulets Fabric, leather, mirror, animal horn, fiber. L. 132 cm.

confident tone and by the excellence of the photography.What is perhaps most striking, however,is the word Bambara in bold-face 3 inch high black letters on the cover's deep-blue field—it assaults the eye (Goldwater,196o). "Bambara,"a term that Muslims in Africa have always applied to those who "refuse to pray,"thereby to a// who they perceived as rejecting the civilizing mission of Islam, has finally,as an ethnographic descriptor, been relegated to explanatory footnotes and replaced by Bamana,the people's name for themselves: Europeans had long adopted the term from Muslims(Mungo Park,in the first quotation at the outset of this essay,for example, uses the designation Bambarra for the people of Segou, but he also applied it rather indiscriminately to all non-Muslims throughout his travel account)and French colonials simply used the name,supplied to them by Muslim informants,as an administrative convenience and ethnic label. Supported by the full authority of French colonial ethnography,the name and the people were joined for nearly a century. Why"Bambara" was

I 36


ples of the middle Niger Valley only thirteen years after the colonial occupation of the city in 1890. Mungo Park,the Scottish physician-explorer who first gazed upon the Niger River at Segou on July 21st,1796, briefly described the architecture of this large urban center,whose population he estimated at 30,000. He tells us that "Moorish" mosques were visible in every quarter of the city (Park1799:195). While he says nothing else about the mosques, he actually tells us quite enough—that throughout Monzon Jara's capital the most palpable symbol of Islam,the mosque,was everywhere to be found.The second quotation, a fragment of an oral epic of eighteenth and nineteenth century Segou, comes from David Conrad's superb translation and annotation of an historical account recorded in 1976 as it was performed by the master bard Tayiru Banbera (Conrad ed.1990:157). What is particularly fascinating is that the bard tells us that the Bamana King,Monzon Jara(who ruled from 17871808)sought the shielding and empowering prayers of a particularly learned Muslim holy man,Mamadu Bisiri, while preparing for his war against the ruler of Kore. Monteil's statement comes in the final chapter of his volume Les Bambara du Segou et du Kaarta,in which he attempts to delineate the various ways in which Muslims and the Bamana accommodated to each other over time(Montei11924:344-345). He touches upon those aspects of Islam that had


Koranic school in a Bamako suburb, 1997.

dent in the quotations that introduce this

most attracted the Bamana,and finally on the agents of Islamization responsible for

essay,the historical evidence plainly suggests otherwise. I selected these particular

the gradual spread of the faith among the Bamana in the eighteenth and nineteenth

statements,although others might have been chosen, because they touch specifi-


cally upon various aspects of the Islamic presence among the Bamana of nineteenth century Segou.The three quotes conveniently span the entire centu-

For the remainder of this essay I want to try and reveal the depth to which Islamic practices formed part of life in nineteenth century Segou,and then briefly examine a more recent example of Bamana sculpture. This striking puppet, most likely carved in

ry—the first two dealing with Segou during the reign of Monzon Jara (1787-1808),

the twentieth century and at a time when

the third by Charles Monteil the French ethnographer who began his studies among the Bamana and neighboring peo-

Bamana conversion to Islam had been most dramatic,suggests a remarkable blending of belief and the artistic imagination.3ft




would have been helpful to have material objects from nineteenth century Segou,for they could have served as windows to the past and help us to experience and inter-

tor and author Louis Tauxier,informs us that Ramadhan and Tabaski consisted of rituals and sacrifices devoted to the ancestors and were performed at the entryway to family

pret what had occurred.This is not possible, unfortunately,for despite all that we

compounds.The offerings, made in the name of Allah and/or the ancestors, were then distributed to children and the poor.

have learned about Bamana creativity we have almost no material from the precolonial period and,to my knowledge, no examples that can be safely attributed to the old Segovian Kingdom.This presents a real challenge, but one that should not deter us,for while the nineteenth century documentary evidence that exists is fragmentary,it is so suggestive that one cannot fail to appreciate just how implicated Islam had become in Bamana behavior

For Tauxier,this was evidence that traditional Bamana sacrifice, where an offering was shared and consumed by the petitioner or priest and a spiritual entity, was being transformed into the Islamic act of almsgiving or saraka (from the Arabic,sadaqa),a religious obligation incumbent upon all Muslims during Ramadhan and Tabaski

and thinking,especially at the royal palace and with its rulers. While Monzon Jara and

(Tauxier 1927:188-193,459). In Segou,the last 15 days of Ramadhan were also enlivened by troupes of uncircumcised boys who traveled from house to house,singing

his successors at Segou never failed to offer sacrifices to the boliw,the traditional and mystical sources of their power,or

and dancing,soliciting gifts from their elders which they shared among themselves at the end of the fast month.

attend to the ancestral shrines that had long sustained this warrior state,they came to regard Islam as an increasingly

Known as yukurii,this ritual, according to Conrad,differed regionally in its details,and could as well have occurred in the area

precious resource,a set of beliefs and prac-

around Bamako include the wearing of

tices capable of not only protecting themselves but of assuring the continued vitali-

wooden masks.6 Fortunately these fragmentary statements of some of the practices associated

ty of all of Segou and its citizenry. We know that festivals based upon the Islamic lunar calendar were celebrated in nineteenth century Segou,although just

with Ramadhan and Tabaski at Segou can be augmented by data from the rival Bamana Kingdom of Kaarta where these

how important a role they played in the ritual life of the Jara dynasty,or among the

same occasions were celebrated as elaborate state affairs. Monteil, who depends

Bamana in general,is not easy to determine given the evidence. For Muslims the celebrations of Ramadhan (the monthlong fast) and Tabaski (the great sacrifice) are canonical obligations, both events requiring that the leader of the communi-

heavily upon the 1847 account of Kaarta by the French explorer Raffenel,tells us in his discussion of Islam among the Bamana that

ty,the Imam,deliver a sermon to all those assembled at the congregational mosque.4 That these occasions have formed a part of related Mande Muslim religious observance is part of the historical record and can best be appreciated in Ibn Battuta's 1353-54 account of the festivals which he witnessed at the court of Mansa Sulayman,the King of Mali. Among the Bamana of Segou,the colonial administra-

the festival of Bairam (Id al-Fitr), which terminated the month of the fast, was a grand event directed by Muslim dignitaries and attended by members of the ruling Massassi clan, minor lineage heads and leaders of the slave warrior regiments. During Bairam, Mande clerics offered prayers for the continued vitality of the King and the prosperity of the state, while the Massassi family made offerings to those local spiritual forces that supported it's sovereign power. A similar blending of Muslim and Bamana practices occurred at the feast


FIG.14 Keno sanctuary in "Sudanese"style, Mpessoba, 1997

of Tabaski (Id al-Kabir)when the political elite of Kaarta renewed their allegiance to the Boll, Nyana,and then observed the ancient Islamic custom of sacrificing a sheep or ram to commemorate the sacrifice of Abraham (Monteil 1924:333-334).The great feast,or soli ba as it is known among the Bamana,was also directed by Muslim clerics;this demonstrates once again the delicate balance that was maintained between the Bamana and Islam in the nineteenth century., Besides these public rituals,there also existed a whole realm of Islamic practice that met the specific needs of the Bamana of pre-colonial Segou. Kings and commoners availed themselves of these services, and we know a good deal more about this aspect of Islam from historical documents. The techniques employed were known only to certain Muslim clerics or marabouts (moriw in Bamana)who had achieved a depth of knowledge in the esoteric sciences (batin).These men, mostly from prominent Marka and Somono clerical families living either in Segou itself or in important nearby commercial centers like Sinsani and Nyamina,carefully guarded their occult knowledge.They worked,for the most part, in private and with a special taste for secrecy and silence,Teachers and scholars,they delved into the inner aspects of Islam devoting much of their learning to the mystical properties of words,numbers and letters, consulting manuscripts and,later in the century, printed books of Sudanic and North African authorship in their search for spiritual and divine guidance.They served not only as advisors,diviners and makers of amulets for the Kings of Segou,but also worked on behalf of anyone that could afford their expertise.' Clerical families that had maintained commercial and religious ties to the old Muslim center of Dia in Massina,such as the Kane and Tyero,were especially valued by the Bamana because of Dia's unrivalled reputation as"...the great center for the production of amulets in the valley ofthe Middle Niger"(Monteil 338).The need for,and use of, Muslim amulets by the nineteenth century Kings of Segou is a recurring theme in the




recorded histories of the state,and no more direct statement of their centrality can be found than the words of King Da Monzon, ruler of Segou from 1808-1827,whose army was soundly defeated by Shekhu of Massina at the battle of Noukuma in 1819. Da Monzon is said to have attributed his defeat to the spiritual arsenal that protected his Muslim adversary—"Shekhu Amadu has in his gourd a talisman of victory more effective than all of the same type that I have from Sinsani,Walata,Timbuktu,and even Kong"(Roberts 1987:46). Just how fully involved Muslims had become in the lives of the Faama or kings

announces the death of the King.The grief in the capital is palpable,the mood dark, and Nyamakala (artisans), warrior captains, traditional priests and seven Holy Men (Moriw) quickly gather at the palace. While the Nyamakala bemoan the loss of their king and patron,the traditional diviners and the Moriw will attempt to forecast the fate of Segou.The seven Moriw go into spiritual seclusion (Kalwa in Bamana,Khalwa in Arabic) and Da Monzon shall await the predictions they make in the days and weeks ahead.'° After the King's burial, members of the royal clan observe the "traditional" peri-

of nineteenth century Segou is in fact too large a topic to be summarized in this brief

od of mourning with offerings given to the deceased on the 1st, 3rd,7th,and 40th days—the precise ceremonial calendar

essay.9 I would like,therefore,to focus my attention upon the last days of Monzon Jara's reign, his death,and the 40-day peri-

the faithful. For me Banbera's narrative dramatically captures the blending of Muslim

od of mourning that followed.Tayiru Banbera's oral epic is a particularly rich source regarding these events and I would

and Bamana elements at the palace—that at the dawn of the nineteenth century Islam was being absorbed at the deepest

like to revisit his narrative for what it tells us about the ineluctable presence of Islam and Muslims in Segou during that time (Conrad 168-173).The year is 1808.The

levels of Bamana Segovian culture. I promised that I would conclude this essay by looking at one example of Bamana

atmosphere at the palace is tense and Faama Monzon,now on his deathbed,calls

demanded by the Koran when mourning for

sculpture,a small but elegant string puppet or maani, most likely carved during the colonial period and possibly as late as the

for his bard,Jeli Tinyetigiba Dante,who comforts him by reciting the royal geneal-

19205. But before turning to this piece,several thoughts come to mind that I would

ogy of the Segovian rulers. Monzon then directs the Jeli to fetch his favorite son Da

like to address.The Bamana,according to those who have worked in Mali, have con-

at Banankoro and bring him to the palace, where he tells him that"This illness will not go away without me,it will take me to

verted to Islam at an unprecedented rate during the twentieth century. Data reported by the French in 1940 for the region of

lahara."The word lahara, as Conrad informs the reader, means the other world or heaven and may well derive from al-

Segou confirms this dramatic shift, with traditional believers said to comprise less than 5o% of the population (Arnoldi

akhira,an Arabic term with the same meaning(Conrad 340). Monzon gives his son the keys to the palace and then shares with him the many secrets associated with

1995:193, n.15). Has this dramatic rate of conversion influenced the arts directly,and has it been made manifest in the artistry of this

royal authority. Da is given access to the four great boliw,the sources of Segou's

immensely creative culture? I suspect that very few of the pieces ultimately selected for the Bamanaya exhibition will reveal the

power,and receives various items of regalia, including an amulet-studded cape, that he will need when he assumes leadership.Three weeks later Monzon finally succumbs and the great ceremonial drum

traces of Islam,and that those that do will bear the stamp of the faith only lightly and then in only the most subtle ways. How does one reconcile this with what we have already learned,or with the words of the


their artistry is that the links between these objects and their meanings are not at all intrinsic,They seem to say that only when we come to appreciate the full circumstances that led to their creation,the choices artists must make in fashioning such works,and the lives that these objects were meant to live, will we ever grasp what they are about. I have seen copies of some of the photographs,taken in Bamana country over the last several decades,that accompany the exhibition and they are stunning." It will be in these images that the viewer will most readily see and feel the place of Islam in Bamana life. Photos of mud brick mosques, constructed like fortresses, with massive walls and towers bristling with wooden spikes,are now encountered all over Bamana country and they are the most visible signs of the strength of any community's commitment to the faith.These places of worship are,for me,some of the most remarkable examples of mosque architecture found anywhere in the Muslim world. Other images reveal Islamic inspired facades and entryways that are reminiscent of the drawings and plates of the homes of Muslim dignitaries found in nineteenth cen-


Maani puppet Wood, beads, fabric, fibers. H. 56 cm.

tury French accounts of Segou and other Bamana blacksmith Kojugu,one of BrettSmith's key informants in her stellar volume,The Making ofBamana Sculpture: "We cite the owners of the Koran and the owners of the Koran cite us; all these

urban centers astride the Niger River. Some photos include scenes of Bamana and others attending ritual and secular events where some Bamana are dressed in clothing styles, including elaborately embroidered gowns,that can only be attributed to the

things are mixed up together"(BrettSmith 1994:21). Her book is a testament to

influence of Islam and the work of Muslim

what Kojugu tells us,for the reader is

tailors. One needs to pay careful attention

never far removed from the presence of

to these images,to look at them closely,for they reveal most fully a pervasive Islamic presence.

Islam. It is always there on the surface of things,as when her informants reveal that powerful Djinn serve as the sources of their creativity,or it lurks, implicitly, in the sub-plots and footnotes of this important study. If things have become so"mixed up

Finally I want to return to that splendid puppet that I have been dangling before the reader(plate* I must admit,at the outset,

together"then why is it still so difficult to discern this on the surface and in the forms of Bamana objects? The Bamana do

to my limited knowledge of this sculpture. Her provenance is unknown and thus we will most likely never be able to recover the name of the immensely talented

not make it easy for the art historian; I feel that what they are saying to us in

sculptor/blacksmith responsible for her, or even determine where in Bamana country



she comes from. I have suggested earlier that she may well have been carved in the early colonial period, but this is only an educated guess, based upon the well-worn

out of brass or copper that rest upon her forehead.She wore three originally, perfectly spaced across the width of her forehead, but the one on the right side is missing and

surfaces of this figure,a sculpted skin that emits a soft, radiant glow. She is, in any case,quite unlike anything illustrated by

only the tiny brad that once held it in place remains.Their shape,and the fact that they

Arnoldi in her authoritative studies of Bamana puppetry(Amoldi 1983 and 1995).

special talismans of the kind long associated with the work of Muslim clerics and Islam. Is this a beautiful Bamana woman or

From Arnoldi's thorough classification of various puppet types this example easily falls into the category known as maani, small string puppets(she is just under 55 cm. high)that are clothed in cotton garments and represent either a person or a spirit embodied in human form.This maani, however,is most unusual in a number of respects (plate 2): the sculpture was never painted; her beauty is enhanced by a finely worked brass earring in her right ear (the one in her left ear having been lost at some point in the past); delicate blue and white glass beads encircle her neck.She wears a discrete nose-ring and old brass tacks draw our attention to her eyes while small vertical marks accent portions of her forehead and three prominent scarification marks are seen on each side of the face, deeply cut from the temples to the line of her jaw. Her gown is made out of narrow strips of locally woven coarse cotton cloth, which is overlaid with a light, commercially produced, red fabric,and enhanced with oversewn cuts of material that suggest the decorative placards so common on lavishly embroidered Muslim attire. What ultimately fascinates the eye are the small rectangular amulets made

are made of metal,suggest that these are

a female spirit? My sense is that she is no ordinary woman, but possibly a female Djinn (linniyya in Arabic)for her long slender arms end in simple knobs instead of the prominent and carefully carved hands of the usual maani." Her hair,fashioned of braided or corded string,is very long and utterly different in texture and shape from Bamana hairstyles found in figurative sculpture. Muslim men often talk about linniyya, hauntingly beautiful female spirits that pervade their dreams,that have flowing hair so long that it simply does not end.Perhaps she was meant to represent one of the many Djinn that Bamana sculptor/smiths see in their dreams,the spiritual muses that they acknowledge as the true sources of their inspired creations.That she was fashioned by a Muslim sculptor seems entirely possible given the multiple references to the faith that she reveals. For me,she is a stunning embodiment of what the Bamana and Islam have made of each other.Whatever her true identity, I would like to suggest that we will never grasp what has taken place among the Bamana until we begin to seriously consider the historical impact of Islam upon the art and artists of this society.



• Editor's note:the author's original spelling was "Segu," but for reasons of consistency in this volume the current-day official spelling (Segou) has been adopted.Only traditional regions that are not officialized by the Malian administration are written phonetically. Bazin's trailblazing article"A chacun son Bambara"is just one of many important contributions in Jean-Loup Amselle and Elikia M'Bokolo's edited volume Au coeur de rethnie: Ethnies, tribalism,et Etat en Afrique. In this work our easy assumptions regarding ethnic designations are rigorously questioned,with the authors addressing the complexities surrounding the nature of shifting ethnic identities. For two art historians working in Bamana country who have most consciously addressed such concerns see M.J.Arnoldi (1995)and B. Frank (1998). An intriguing use of the name Bambara is encountered in contemporary Morocco, among the Gnawa of Marrakesh,where the term is frequently applied to a portion of allnight possession ceremonies and where the name appears in the titles of specific chants that encourage people to enter trance (Bravmann 1995:64-69). For an excellent introduction to the Gnawa and their music, I recommend Philip Schuyler's liner notes and side one of Music ofMorocco- the Pan Islamic Tradition, Volume 3, Lyrichord Stereo LIST 7240(nd).Side one,Band 4,Bambaraouia(Bambara girl) and Band 2,Jellaba Tiktu (The White Cloak)are especially relevant. 2. This reference to Segou comes from Chapter 7, page 242,of David Robinson's remarkable study The Holy War of UmarTal(1985)and his thoughtful examination of the Umarian campaign against Segou,1859-61. For some of the enthusiastic reactions to Umar Tal's victory, locally and from abroad,see page 266. 3. For the growth of Islam among the Bamana since the advent of the colonial period see Djata, The Bamana Empire by the Niger (1997:158-162). For French West Africa in general J.S.Trimmingham's chapter 9 and appendix Sin Islam in West Africa are most enlightening. 4. Among the Bamana,Ramadhan is called sunkalo,the moon of deprivation.Tabaski,according to Tauxier 1927, p.461, was dedicated to the

ancestors,the earth and Allah. 5. The handiest source for Muslim authors who wrote on the early empires of the Western Sudan,and of course Mali,is Levtzion and Hopkins,Corpus ofEarly Arabic Sourcesfor West African History. Battuta's description of the Ramadhan and Tabaski ceremonies is found in Corpus 292-293. 6. Conrad's mention ofyukuri(iggo:257-58,footnote no. g)is simply another instance of how certain Mande peoples have elaborated portions of the month of Ramadhan to include nighttime festivities. For Do Do masking among the Dyula of Bobo-Dioulasso,see my "Ramadan—Islamic Holy Days and An African Sensibility" in Bravmann 1983:59-69. 7. According to Tauxier(1927:461-462),the Bamana celebrated two other ceremonial occasions in the Islamic calendar,These were Diombene (or Dyombende),occurring on the loth day of Muharram,the first month of the Muslim year,and Domba,which is the Mawlid or Maulaud,the birthday of the Prophet, held on the 12th day of the third month.Although they are minor festivals for most Muslims of the world,they play an important role in many Mande communities.Tauxier had little to say about either of these festivals among the Bamana,but does discuss at some length how Domba was observed among the Dyula of Bondoukou in Ivory Coast where during Domba rifles,swords,and war garments covered with talismans were cleaned and then displayed for all to see.Young men would don these powerful garments,arm themselves,and parade in military fashion symbolically guarding the Prophet from his enemies.Today,Damba,as it is known in the Mande derived states of Gonja and Dagomba in Ghana,not only honors the Prophet's birthday but also celebrates chiefship and kingship,ancient shrines and spirits devoted to the land,and local values. It is a festival that ritually reenacts the history of the Mande states and the relationships forged between rulers and the ruled,especially the ties that bound chiefs(who were for the most part nonMuslim)to Muslim members of society [for Gonja see Goody 1967,for Dagomba see Ferguson 1972]. For me,Domba or Damba,also dramatically expresses the multiple roles

played by Muslims in helping to shape and sustain the political systems within which they resided. As crucial commercial agents in these states, Muslim merchants were the primary suppliers of guns,ammunition and horses for mounted warriors, while Islamic clerics supplied these same troops with a variety of protective charms and war gowns that helped to protect them in the heat of battle.This is precisely the role played by Muslims in the Bamana Kingdom of Segou,and one can only imagine that it might well have been a part of the festivities associated with Domba in that city as well. 8. How Muslim minorities not only survived but thrived in "lands of unbelief," and especially within powerful pagan states, have been a subject of much interest to historians of West African Islam. For the most recent of his many contributions on this topic see Wilks(2000:95lot). 9. A systematic study of the published oral accounts on the history of Bamana Segou would undoubtedly prove rewarding in revealing the closeness of Muslims to its Kings. Banbera's version is particularly rich with respect to this topic, but it likely is a part of all extant versions. 10. Khalwa (seclusion) and divination (Khatt arraml)are crucial components of Islam and of profound importance to Muslim practice in West Africa. Islamic divination or sand-writing is so closely related to Bamana techniques that one can only suspect that the latter has been deeply influenced by the classic Muslim treatise on the subject,the thirteenth century text of Abu Abdallah al-Zanati. For an eye-opening assessment of this crucial topic see Brenner (200o:153-164).A sensitive treatment of Bamana sand-divination or Cenda ,but one which does not suggest the presence of Islam, can be found in McNaughton's description of a session carried out by his blacksmith/mentor, Sedu Traore.(McNaughton 1988:54-55 and ill. 34). 11. I want to thank Laurie Farrell,Assoc. Curator at the Museum for African Art,for kindly furnishing me with copies of some of the field photographs and objects under consideration for the Bamanaya exhibition. 12. Arnoldi 1995:82






Lance with female figure Koulikoro region Iron. H. 161 cm. The staffi were carried during initiations and funerals and placed strategically around the dance arena. They may also have been hidden away within the shrine houses or sacred groves of certain institutions as part of complex matrix ofsacred power objects. Vivian Paques(1956: 375) reported that four such staffs were used to mark the tomb of a founding ancestor in southern Mali.


Lance with female figure Koulikoro region Iron. H. 170 cm. Staffs, usually made from several pieces, are filled by expert blacksmiths, with an active energy (nyama).


More Than Objects: Bamana Artistry in Iron, Wood,Clay, Leather and Cloth'


Elegant antelope headdresses,spare facemasks,stately figures,and encrusted altars—these objects constitute the familiar canon of Bamana art in museums in Africa, Europe,and the United States.They were commissioned for the ritual and social activities of Bamana institutions such as Ci-wara, Ntomo,Gwan,and Kama. Now virtually silent,they were once central elements in multidimensional multimedia performances involving color, sound,rhythm,and movement,as well as spiritual power. Long before performances take place, artists are called upon to create works of art that will be worn,openly displayed, danced and manipulated;or hidden,concealed,and consulted privately.The aesthetic abilities of institution members are challenged as they assemble various materials,choreograph dance moves,and sequence different events.They will face an audience of participant observers who share certain expectations and knowledge of what the performance should entail, but who also want to be awed,surprised and entertained.The audience will be a discriminating one that demands exceptional performances of familiar characters, but also looks forward to new actions, characters,dance moves,or songs,to be introduced into the repertoire. While wooden masks and sculptures are among the more prominent and public of art forms, produced and performed in abundance,Bamana artistry encompasses a broader range of objects and media involving both male and female artists and performers. Appreciating the extent of this

artistry begins with understanding the complexity of artist identity among Bamana peoples. Most Bamana artists belong to a recognized distinct class of peoples known collectively as nyamakalaw (Conrad and Frank 1.9.95).They do not intermarry with horon, the majority population comprised largely of farmers and traders. It is not uncommon for these artists to suggest that they are of an entirely different ethnic origin,that their ancestors existed before the Bamana,and that they were smelting iron, carving wood and making pots before the Bamana could hunt,farm,or cook. In fact,the development of craft specialization among the Bamana was a complex process that entailed the concentration of ritual authority and technical expertise within certain clans,awarding them exclusive rights to particular domains. This history also includes interactions— some peaceful,some violent—among a wide range of peoples across the region. Bamana society is today,and has long been, a heterogeneous one. Bamana blacksmith-sculptors, potters, leatherworkers,oral historians and praise singers have inherited the right to work certain materials and undertake certain social and ritual responsibilities for their patrons. Other kinds of Bamana artistry fall outside the restricted domains practiced by these artists, most especially those related to the textile arts,including both the production of cloth as well as dyeing and a variety of other surface treatments of textiles. Other objects and materials are acquired from resident minorities,itinerant artists and traders of different ethnic groups,including




Fula, Moor,Soninke, Dogon,and Tuareg, peoples who have long been part of the

taboos and employ protective medicines, especially during the smelting operation

Bamana social, economic and aesthetic landscape.

(Herbert 1993). However,it has been nearly half a century since the smelting furnaces


imported scrap iron has long been available. Older blacksmiths describe the process with

burned alongside the great rivers of Mali,as

The making of sculpture is just one of a wide range of creative and sacred acts numuw carry out for their clients (McNaughton 1979,1988,Ardouin 1978, Brett-Smith 1994).They were the leaders of Komo,the organization that was once responsible for the spiritual health of the community,offering powerful protection against the evils of sorcery.Today,numuw continue to perform the delicate surgical and ritual procedure of circumcising young

a certain degree of nostalgia, maintaining that the quality of indigenous iron was much superior to that with which they must work today. However,they do not lament the passing of such a labor-intensive,as well as physically and spiritually demanding,procedure. The majority of Bamana blacksmiths active today focus their energies on the production and repair of hoe blades,axes,

boys,a process that also involves educating them about their roles as adults.They

adzes and knives.There is no longer much demand for finely wrought spear blades, swords,or the iron fittings of horse-trap-

are consulted as healers and diviners, renowned for their knowledge of traditional medicine and their ability to

pings.There are few remaining blacksmiths with the knowledge and skill required to undertake more elaborate feats offorging,

communicate with the spirit world. Although acting as mediators is the princi-

such as the making of flint lock guns or the elegant oil lamps that once were common

pal domain of gnats in Bamana society, numuw are sometimes called upon to settle disputes and negotiate marriage

throughout the region. Even fewer would be able to create the iron staffs surmounted by a figure that are raised to the status of"Art"

alliances. While all of these abilities, creative acts and responsibilities are part of the Bamana conception of the social category known as numu,not all men born to

in the West.

these families exercise their birthright. In practice,an individual numu may choose to specialize in a particular domain—carving sculpture rather than forging iron,for example—reflecting his own inclinations and abilities. Or he may choose to leave the profession to his brothers or cousins and to become a mechanic,a farmer,a trader,or to engage in some other livelihood. The reputation of numuw as great sorcerers comes in part from their heritage as iron smelters,capable of smelting ore for forging weapons,tools,and sacred objects. Iron and especially iron ore is believed to harbor spiritually charged forces(nyama) from which blacksmiths need to be protected during the creative process.They are said to observe strict procedural

These figured staffs of men and women, often on horseback,challenged the technical and creative skills of the blacksmith. Like other types of Bamana sculpture,the forms are reduced to the essentials, with elongated torsos and drawn out limbs,smooth rounded surfaces,and attention to fine details.The staffs have been documented serving a variety offunctions,some public and political, others private and spiritual (McNaughton 1988:123-125, Ezra 1986:8-10, Imperato1983:39-41).They were placed at the threshold of the family compound to serve as emblems of status and perhaps to receive offerings.They were carried during initiations and funerals and placed strategically around the dance arena.They may also have been hidden away within the sanctuary houses or sacred groves of certain institutions as part of complex matrix of sacred power objects. Viviana Paques(1956:375)



Ritual staff with female figure and phallic symbol Koulikoro or Sikasso region Iron. H. 51.4 cm. The gesture towards the breasts with the hands is a sign of respect.


reported that four such staffs were used to

Spear with male figure holding sword

mark the tomb of a founding ancestor in southern Mali.

acrobatic movements and complex manipulations of costume and headdress that created visual illusions of an inhuman

Western concepts of art may require a distinction between objects of beauty and ones of utility, placing these figured staffs

presence.The manipulation of fire is clearly part of their professional expertise as blacksmiths, however,it is also one of the more

into a category separate from the lamps, guns,and blades blacksmiths make. However,the Bamana do not maintain

dramatic displays of ritual power they employ during Kama and other

Koulikoro region Iron. H. 132 cm.

such strict categories;they recognize

performances.Such wonderworking demonstrations may include spitting or swallowing fire or holding a lighted torch to

artistry in the making, using and appreciation of all of these objects.The same is true for carvings of wood.

the skin without being burned.


woven together descriptions of colonial

Most blacksmiths have some carving skills and equipment if for no other reason than

encounters and information collected from sculptors and participants to arrive at a narrative of the tradition's development over time and space.The salient features of this

to make the handles for the hoes,axes, adzes,and knives that are their general stock in trade. Indeed one of the first things a young blacksmith apprentice

In her research on Bamana puppet theater, Mary JO Arnoldi (19890995:24-29) has

history are that the theater originated among Bozo fishing communities during

learns to make is a hoe handle (McNaughton 1988:26). Most numuw also carve stools,and some specialize in the production of mortars and pestles. However,the carving of more sophisticat-

the pre-colonial period. It was borrowed,

ed objects,such as masks,figurative sculp-

development and diffusion of the puppet

ture and doorlocks,is often done by individuals who have chosen to specialize in such work. It is not uncommon for repre-

masquerade.According to Arnoldi,the original Bozo masquerades were constructed

sentatives of age grade and initiation societies to travel great distances to seek out blacksmiths known especially for their carving skills. McNaughton (1988:47,103,106-8) cites the example of the numu Sidi Ballo, who was renowned for his bird masquerade. Ballo not only carved the elegant wooden headdress, but he also assembled the costume and danced the masquerade. His

adopted and adapted by Somono and Bamana communities throughout the Segou region. Bamana blacksmith-sculptors played an important role in the

entirely of grass, a masquerade type that remains one of the most important categories in Bozo as well as Bamana performances.The introduction of wooden puppets into the repertoire is credited to sculptors of the region of Shianro (Saro), east of Segou. From there it seems to have been a creative collaboration between individual artists and communities in the way particular characters were added to the local youth association's repertoire.

performances were spectacular,infused with energy,and punctuated by miraculous feats that bordered on sorcery. McNaughton (1988:138-45,see also 1979)

Arnoldi (1995:29-35)examines the case of one particularly well-known sculptor in the Kirango region.The late Siriman Fane is

also recorded accounts of Kcimo performances that involved harnessing

now well-established characters in his own village as well as in other villages of the region,especially those with which his family had marriage connections. He was apprenticed to a carver from the Shianro

occult forces to identify and defeat challengers to the dancerikomotigi.These performances included theatrical dramatizations of mystical power,awe-inspiring

credited with the introduction of a series of

(Saro) region and spent his early career as



47 1




Figure San region Iron. H. 17 cm.

Female figure Sikasso region Iron. H. 12.5 cm.

Figure Sikasso region Iron. H. 10 cm

This male figure was probably part of a group of sculptures.


Ritual staff with female figure Sikasso region Iron. H. 148 cm.


an itinerant blacksmith-carver, before establishing his workshop in a village near Kirango. He was an especially prolific carver until his death in the mid-198os,and some of his puppets are still being performed. He was also responsible for training a generation of younger sculptors who have extended his style of carving, replacing some of his puppets,and contributing their own innovations.These carvers collaborate with members of the youth associations,who often develop ideas for new characters from sojourns to neighboring towns and villages. In addition

medicines to safeguard both exciser and patient. Like their husbands,numumusow are believed to have special powers to protect themselves and others from sorcery, whether they are performing surgery or working nyama-laden clay. In the late 194os,Germaine Dieterlen (1951:124-27) recorded the existence of a special association of women potters responsible for the maintenance of altars dedicated to their trade.She reported that the women used a nienti, a type of vessel

to acquiring the puppet form,assembling

commonly used to steam couscous,as an altar for annual sacrifices, purification and initiation ceremonies. Before they could

the costumes and accoutrements,and creating the dance movements,the youth must also enlist the female singers for praise

become members of the association, blacksmith girls underwent rites of consecration involving public acknowledgement of their

songs to complete the performance.Thus

excision and their virginity,and private instruction in the history of their craft,the dangers they will endure,and the importance of observing certain taboos.Their bodies were rubbed with karite oil and they were required to seal an oath of allegiance by running their tongues over the ceramic

while the audience may well single out the carver for praise,the success of the performance enlists the creative strengths and talents of a broader spectrum of people.

Clay Bamana potters are known as numumusow (blacksmith women),though they clearly see themselves as much more than simply the wives of blacksmiths(Frank 1994,1998). Ask a Bamana potter to define numuya,and she will present beating iron and making pottery (dagalo,dagajo, lit. raising pottery, making it stand) as equivalent,gender-specific categories.The deep

altar. At the end of the initiation process, there was great feasting and the girls were given several pots to sell, until such time as they could make their own as full-fledged potters. According to Dieterlen,each year, potters made offerings of cowrie shells (formerly used as currency)to their husband's forge.They then assembled at the firing ground,stripped and presented their geni-

sense of distinctive heritage that black-

tals to the nienti in an act of submission to the spirit forces that guide successful pot-

smith women share extends beyond their

tery production.

exclusive rights to the technology of pot-

Blacksmith women also played a key

tery production,into the social and ritual

role in another association known as Nyagwan,said to be the female equivalent of Komo. Membership was primarily for senior women,although younger women who had successfully born several children might be allowed to join. When a woman

arena.Their presence is often required during rites of passage associated with childbirth, baptism, marriage and death. A very few among them take on the special responsibility of excising young girls. According to tradition, it is the lineage of a woman's father that determines whether or not she would be capable of learning to perform the operation.The nyama of the operation is powerful,and only those with the proper training know the words and

married and left her father's village she would be inducted in the Nyagwan chapter of her husband's family, but would never lose membership in that of her father's clan. As part of the preparations for Nyagwan celebrations,the faces of the women were




washed with specially prepared medicinal liquids to enable them to see things they otherwise would not. Women interviewed in the early 19905 spoke with awe and respect for the sorcery elder women com-

devote the most attention to the shape and surface design of water jars.These also receive the most aesthetic critique by

manded during Nyagwan celebrations, describing acts remarkably parallel to

tial purchase for a young woman's trousseau. Older examples often have molded images with anthropomorphic figures,

those cited for Komi) performances. Nyagwan elders could slap the ground and water would miraculously appear.They

clients,as they are intended for public display in the compound and remain an essen-

serpents and lizards making their way around or splayed across the shoulders. Today it is more common to see geometric or floral slip designs painted around the

could breathe fire from their mouths.They were able to effortlessly move mounds of earth or massive tree trunks to the site of the gathering.There were displays of statuary, wooden figures draped in white cloth

shoulder.Thus while Western collectors may favor the older examples for their figurative imagery,the Bamana are not so restrictive

placed next to an elder woman who recited sacred phrases and kept guard over a basket of sacred objects. During the course

in their tastes. As with objects of metal and wood,they recognize artistry in the most mundane of ceramic wares, whether it is

of the celebrations, participants danced with the figures and with objects from the basket.The women elders, it is said, were also capable of making their saliva flow

the pleasing proportions of a large water jar,the well-formed rim of a cooking vessel, or finely incised patterns on a couscous steamer.

like a river to douse the fire when the celebrations ended. Unfortunately, much of the memory of these esoteric practices and beliefs has been lost with the passing

Leather and textile arts

of the elders. Bamana potters today concern themselves primarily with producing utilitarian

come from the social class of praise singers and oral historians known asjell. However, leatherworkers of various ethnic

vessels for cooking and storing water, beer

backgrounds,including Soninke and Fula, provide their services either as itinerant craftsmen or as resident minorities long settled in Bamana towns.Women in these fam-

and grains,for burning incense,and for cooking and serving foods. Most of the women load their heads with pots and travel to local and regional markets in search of

Bamana leatherworkers(Frank 1995,1998)

ilies may assist with the tanning process, but

buyers for their wares.The best potters are often able to work on commission,and even

the making of objects is generally a man's domain.In the past, leatherworkers were

have clients come to their compounds to reserve pieces still hot from a firing. Bamana potters and their clients have

kept busy with commissions for saddles, horse trappings,and the accoutrements of warfare such as sword sheaths and powder

a shared conception of what makes a good pot. Most important is the sound produced when the knuckles of one hand

horns.Today,amulets are perhaps the most significant in numbers and importance of the objects commissioned from leatherworkers. Knife sheaths and flywhisks

are rapped against the side of the vessel. A clear high-pitched ring indicates that the pot has been properly fired and is without internal flaws. It is not uncommon to see potential customers bent at the waist tap-

are also brought to these craftsmen for embellishment. Most of these objects serve rather personal functions. However,they are also among the accoutrements carried or

ping several pots for comparison before picking one up to examine its surface and form.Of all the objects they make, potters

worn by performers,as protective devices and as decorative elements.The leather forehead fringe of a horse's headstall,for


example, may be seen concealing the face of a Ci-wara dancer.

Ntomo are often a tribute to traditional values in locally spun,woven and dyed cotton,

In the past the weaving of cotton was done by male slaves and spinning by female slaves, with materials supplied by their owners.These are now done as independent trades, however,in many cases the client still provides the raw cotton or the thread for the commission.Sewing and embroidery are done primarily by

infused with sacred medicines.Women's groups show social and aesthetic solidarity

men,as are most forms of tailoring and clothing design. Indigo dyeing,and the tying or sewing of patterns for indigo dyeing,is done by women.Starch and wax

by dressing in identical patterns of commercially produced cloth for dances such as the ngusun around a master balafon player. Members of the same age grade appear in color-coordinated blouses and wrappers for group dances leading up to the puppet performances in the Segou region.The platforms from which the puppets perform are often constellations of brilliant analine dyed

resist practiced in the urban centers are

checkerboard blankets borrowed for the occasion,and the brightly painted rod pup-

done by both men and women,and the prepared cloths are generally taken to dye-

pets emerge from bright lengths of commercially printed cloth.

ing cooperatives run by women. It is men who starch and beat the cloths to give them the desired stiffness and sheen. Bogolanfini (lit, mud-dyed cloth) is a remarkable style and technique of dyeing traditionally produced by Bamana women especially in the Beledugu region north of the capital (Brett-Smith 1982,1984,Aherne 1992). Over the last twenty years,the stark white-on-black graphic patterns have become a distinctive marker of Bamana/African identity in the fashion industry both in Mali and abroad.

Colonialism,Islam,capitalism,and the establishment of Western educational systems over the last century have had an impact on Bamana social and religious institutions.The contexts for some of the objects now preserved in museum collections no longer exist. Bamana society has changed,and the arts have been part of these changes. However,the resurgence of bogolan and the continued vitality of such institutions as Ci-wara and Sogow attest to the resilience and dynamism of Bamana social and aesthetic traditions. Bamana artistry has always been about more than

Variations of bogolan have become hot items on the tourist market made by both men and women,and contemporary artists

objects. It is about artists who are more than simply crafts persons. It is about a

have been experimenting with and exploit-

complex social matrix where heritage mat-

ing its expressive potential (Rovine1997).

ters, but does not delimit innovation and

Textiles figure prominently in Bamana performances.The protective costumes of masked dancers such as Cebilenke and

creativity. It is about the aesthetic choices of individuals and groups,artists and performers,as well as a discriminating audience.

•!would like to thank Mary Jo Arnoldi, Kate Ezra, ames Brink and Gregory Ruftheir comments on this essay.






Ritual staff with equestrian figure

Ritual staff with equestrian figure

Central Banzana region Iron. H. 133 cm

Koulikoro region Iron. H.86 cm.

1 52


cAT.13 Equestrian figure

Central Bamana region Iron. H. 27 cm

cAT.15 Staff with equestrian figure

Sikasso region Iron. H. 52 cm.

CAT.14 Ritual staff with equestrian figure

Koulikoro region Iron. H.86.7 cm.



CAT.i7 Equestrian figure Central Bamana region Iron. H. 23 cm


Equestrian figure Central Bamana region Iron. H. 20.3 cm.


Bows(?) Metal. L.30.5 and 24 cm. These unidentifiable objects are possibly miniature bows related to funeral rituals.



CAT. 19


Equestrian figure

Equestrian figure Segon region Wood. H.61 cm

Segou region

Wood. H. 56 cm





Staff with female figure:solima bere Koulikoro region Wood,leather, metal, beads, string. H.31.3 cm. (figure detail)


Staff with female figure:solima bere Koulikoro region Wood. H. 118 cm.



CAT.23 A,8

Staff figures Wood. H. 28.75 to 30.5 cm. CAT.24

Staff figure Wood. H. 28 cm.




CAT 25

Door with lock Central Bamana region Wood,iron. H. 156 cm. The upper part of the door lock symbolizes a protective element of the Iamb cult.



Doorlock in the form of a crocodile Koulikoro region Wood, iron. H. 44.5 cm.


Doorlock in the form of a crocodile Koulikoro region Wood. H. 40.5 cm.


Doorlock Bamako region Wood, iron. H. 37.5 cm. The upper part evokes a bat, symbol of vigilance and watchfulness. The lock guards the granary that contains the millet harvest.





Doorlock Central Bamana region Wood, iron. H.38 cm.






Central Bamana region Wood, iron. H. 51 cm.

Central Bamana region Wood, iron. H.37 cm.






Doorlock Central Bamana region Wood, iron. H.45 cm.

Figural doorlock Central Bamana region Wood, iron. H.46 cm.

Figural doorlock Central Bamana region Wood,iron. H.43 cm. Female figure wearing an amulet on her chest. The body is covered with geometric scarifications and the shape of the coiffure is nineteenth century.

Doorlock with anthropomorphic figure and scarifications.






Central Bamana region Wood, iron. H. 31.5 cm.

Central Bamana region Wood. H. 35.5 cm.








Koulikoro region Wood,iron. H.45 cm.

Koulikoro region Wood, iron. H.46 cm.



Doorlock Koulikoro region Wood, iron. H.23 cm.


Doorlock Segou region Wood. H.42 cm.


Doorlock Sikasso region Wood. H. 35.5 cm.




Stool &ton region Wood. H. 29 cm. These stools evoke female physical health and fecundity These forms also appear info sculpture.


Stool Central Bamana region Wood. H. 44.5 cm.

1 66



Stool Mopti region Wood. L. 58.5 cm. This stool adopts the symbolism of the tortoise, with its lower part containing motifs recalling the architecture of the Marks and Bozo peoples as notably in Sanho meeting house.


Sanho, house ofthe young-people in a Bow village ofLake Deb째.




Vessel Koulikoro region Ceramic, glaze. D.48 cm.


Vessel Koulikoro region Ceramic, glaze. D. 50.8 cm.


Vessel Koulikoro region Ceramic. H. 49.5 cm.




Figural grip Sigou region Wood. L. 5.5 cm.

Knife with figural head Segou-Saro region Wood,iron. H.33 cm.

Head of staff with a nineteenth century hairstyle.



:_tesur. m-umetcont




Heddle pulley

Heddle pulley

Heddle pulley

Segou region Wood. H. 25.5 cm.

Segou region Wood. H. 25.5 cm.

Sikasso region Wood. H.24 cm.


Ritual object with anthropomorphic head Koulikoro or Sikasso region Wood. H. 53 cm. CAT.51

Ritual vessel with squatted figure Segou region Wood. H. 38 cm. This container for shea butter is surmounted by a human figure. The hairstyle dates back to the second-half of the nineteenth century.




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Bamana institutions

Bamana Institutions

The Sogow Imagining a Moral Universe Through Sogo b15 Masquerades


Sogo be,a puppet masquerade drama,performed today in many Bamana communities within the Segou region in south central Mali is organized under the auspices

cate that rod puppets began to be created for the theater sometime in the second half of the nineteenth century and it is Bamana numu,blacksmiths, who everyone acknowl-

of the kamalen ton,the village youth asso-

edges created most of the carved wooden rod puppets used in both fishermen's and farmer's Sogo be theaters throughout the past century.'

ciation. It is defined by the community as nyenaje,entertainment and tulon, play. The Sogo be masquerade has a regional identity rather than being associated with a single ethnic group.Sogo be did not originate with the Bamana, but with the Bozo fishermen. By the late nineteenth century, however,Bamana within Segou began to adopt the masquerade theater and throughout the last century it flourished in these farming communities.Within Segou, people's sense of the Sogo be regional identity and its uniqueness as a genre is based upon perceptions of its origins within Segou; its pan-ethnic endorsement; its close identification with local youth associations; and the particular constellations of expressive forms and dramatic characters that are considered unique to the theater.'


Sogo puppet representing a solitary buffalo: Sigi dankele Bani region Wood, metal. H. 81.5 cm. The solitary buffalo, Sigi dankele, symbolizes majesty. The condition of dankele, being alone refers to old bulls, who leave the herd and move independently through the bush.

Contemporary performances in Bamana communities always include a small number of grass and cloth masquerades, which are considered the oldest forms in the theater and regularly acknowledged to have originated with the fishermen.The majority of masquerades currently performed in the theater are large rod puppet masquerades. It is the puppet masquerade that is universally identified as the signature form in the Segou theater. Bamana identify these rod puppets as their group's particular contribution to the Sogo be. Oral histories indi-

Fishermen and farmers share a basic performance structure.The theater is organized into a series of discrete masquerade sequences that are punctuated by short intervals of song and dance. Each sequence consists of a single dramatic character whose performance generally lasts between five and ten minutes.Well over twenty masquerades might be played in one evening event. In most communities the masquerades are voiceless and are accompanied by drumming and by songs performed by a lead singer and women's chorus.Troupes creatively exploit the full spectrum of artsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;masquerades,dances, drumming and songsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;to construct the dramatic characters in the fictional world of Sogo be. People's sense of the uniqueness of the Sogo be arts does not deny that in some instances, masks, puppets,songs,dances,or drum rhythms can and often do have prior performance histories outside the youth masquerade theater. Rather,the invention of new forms or the selective borrowing of forms from other performance traditions seems to have been a continual and selfconscious strategy, which these troupe's regularly employed.3 This emphasis on innovation and borrowing characterizes one of the most important dimensions of this the-




Ngon mask performing in Tadiana, 1997. This licentious character, Ngon,comesfirth in several circumstances to announce the Sogo be and the Ci-wara performances.

atrical form. It has contributed to the sustained vitality of the theater and allowed troupes to generate new performances from season to season and from generation to generation. Sogo 116 performances are important sites for the exploration of the moral universe. Even though they are defined as entertainment,troupes proceed with a seriousness of purpose,often mediated by wit and humor,to examine the nature of their world and their lived experiences. For well

mance event.Sogo bo draws many of its forms and messages from the past, while also demanding that each generation innovate in ways that make the characters and messages relevant to their contemporary experience. The largest groups of masquerade characters and the oldest performed in the theater are bush animals. Evidence from oral histories of the early Sogo ho suggests that

over a century the theater has constituted

the original set offour or five masquerades was all bush animals.The name for the youth theater,Sogo be), means"the animals

an important avenue through which young Bamana men and women have gained access to knowledge,instruction, and experience in contemplating and actualizing critical beliefs and values within their com-

come forth." In the late twentieth century bush animal masquerades still made up over sixty percent of the masquerade repertory. Bush animal masquerades include elephants, hippos, bush buffalos, hyenas,lions

munities.4 Contemporary performances can

and other wildcats,as well as a whole group of antelopes and birds. In Bamana commu-

best be understood as a series of nested interpretive frames that coexist within a single event.These interpretations have different histories and they receive different emphases within the performances. Each contributes to the production of a complex dialogue,which unfolds within the perfor-

I 78


nities the bush is defined as the domain of men and the interpretation of the theater's bush animal characters are informed by beliefs and values associated with hunting and with hunters as men of action and society's heroes. It is the world of the hunter

and its association with heroic behavior that young men in the youth association, the owners of the masquerades,choose to identify with and to celebrate through the performance of these bush animal masquerades.'Over the last decades at the same time that the actual area of uncultivated land has constricted and the numbers of hunters have diminished,the definition of the bush and the nature of the hunter/hero have been extended to other arenas of endeavor,The ethos of the hunter/hero, his knowledge,assertiveness, and daring,which is captured and celebrated in the great Mande epics,still has immediacy for young men in Mali today. In the Sogo bo theater, bush animal

Hunters classify animals as either sogofin,dark or powerful animals,or as sogoje,clear or less nyama-laden animals. Among the Bamana all of the carnivores, the lion, hyena,wildcats,which are themselves hunters,are sogofin. Hunters make their reputations by successfully killing such animals." Many sogofin, like Sigi, the Bush Buffalo, regularly appear as characters in the youth association theater where the link to hunting and hunters is made explicit through the masquerade songs. A number of troupes play this masquerade as a solitary figure. As it lumbers slowly into the dance ring it is accompanied by this song:

masquerades remain important in these

Korondon sigi dankelen Korondon i be cew both

repertories precisely because they are richly drawn and complex metaphors through

Bellow lone buffalo

which to explore the nature of knowledge and power,the relationship of the individual to the group,and the means by which a young man can gain his toga, name or reputation.

Bellow for you are in the hands of men [hunters] According to hunters'lore,the condition of dankelen, being alone,in the song,refers


Kamalen-ton,youth association dancing during a Sogo bb performance, Kirango, 1980.



79 I

to old bulls, who leave the herd and move independently through the bush. Korondon,to bellow,is a verbal image that evokes the size and power of these solitary male animals. In singing this line,the lead singer stretches the word korondon to achieve a sonorous effect. Hunters describe old bulls as dangerous and difficult to bring down.The masquerade song praises the power of the master hunter who has both the nyama and the means to make the kill and to control the energy released by this action.The phrase i be X bolo, to have something in one's hand,is a standard form of stating ownership.Some people interpreted this song line within the framework of hunting as an expression of the essential competitive relationship between men and animals in the bush. Others extended their interpretation to include the competition between young men and their elders. It is during the kamalen waati,the time of youth,that young men begin to actively seek to surpass the accomplishments of their fathers.7 The ethos of the kamalen,young men, is directed toward assertiveness, bravery, and courage.Sigi in this context represents the power of tradition which is associated with cekor贸w,elders and to those forces that plot one's destiny.The hunter, here associated with young men in the youth association, represents the power to overcome tradition and to gain one's name by surpassing the deeds of one's father and ancestors. Like Sigi,the song for the masquerade, Duga,the Vulture, makes an explicit link to hunting and to the hunter as hero.The name Duga,the Vulture,itself is a praise name for a master hunter.'The song reads: Duga, mansa kbrb k'i be taa min a ko n'be taa n'yaala n'be taa n'yaak ka here nyini e koni bi taa here nyini E bejiginfen kanfen tejigin e koni kan Vulture, old king where are you going

He says I am wandering I am wandering in search of good fortune You find only good fortune You land on something, but nothing lands on you. The song's opening line includes the praise name Old King and its final line incorporates the hunter's proverb.This proverb speaks of the vulture's invincibility and it sets the interpretive frame for the masquerade character.The reference in the second line to yaala, wandering,is an allusion to the dalimasigi, the hunter's adventure. Today, people regard young men's long-distance labor migrations as a kind of dalimasigi. Antelopes are popular theatrical characters and they too have a long history in the theater. While antelopes are not carnivores, certain species of antelope are classified as sogofin because they are protected by powerful bush genies. Daje, the Roan Antelope is one such antelope and a version of this masquerade is played by almost every troupe in the region. Its song reads: Daje sarama YOU ee ee sogo makari be n'na ee Daje sarama yoo ee ee sogo makari be n'na ee Daje the beloved yoo ee ee the animal makes me feel pity Daje the beloved yoo ee ee the animal makes me feel pity In the opening line the word sarama, beloved,evokes the sense of the animal's beauty.The song itself was described as a praise song for the antelope.The tempo of the song,which is dirge-like, and the word makiri, pity, underscore its interpretation as a lament.What is implied in the song is that a master hunter has felled the antelope. People believe that Daje's great beauty was given to it as a protective cloak by the bush genies. According to hunters'lore,the roan antelope's extraordinary beauty can paralyze a hunter.Thus,a hunter must have the necessary means to overcome this animal's



Suruku (hyena)mask, Sogo be performance, Tadiana, 1997. Puppet masquerades are a popularform ofentertainment in Bamana villages. The characters and themes are a mixture ofancient religious topics, tales, and Muslim and Western influence.

paralyzing beauty and to make the kill. He

courage,individuality,define the

must also have the nyama,energy or life force,to protect himselffrom the wrath of

dimensions of a socially competent male

the bush spirits,the animal's protectors.The hunter's praise to the antelope is essential, for it pacifies the animal's protective genie and protects the community by dispersing and warding off the nyama which was released when the animal was killed. There are also a number of locally invented Sogo bO masquerade characters

person. Understanding and managing this dialectic tension between badenya and fadenya are important in the socialization of young men into adult society. In these two masquerades the competing forces, which underlie the relationships between youth and elders,and between individual action and the collective will, become the subject of the dramatic discourse."

that appear as antelopes, but are defined

Two characters, Dugu-duman-yiri-bi-

as k'a ye,imaginary characters.The inter-

wooyo and Son-min-te-ma-na,which are now performed in a cluster of villages within Segou speak to the themes of unity and rivalry.The character Dugu-duman-yiri-bi-

pretation of these characters is not oriented towards hunting and heroic behaviors, but shifts the interpretive frame placing a greater emphasis on the exploration of the nature of community relations, and on strategies for managing the tensions between unity and rivalry which Bamana gloss as badenya andfadenya.'" The values associated with both badenya,social solidarity, respect for authority,cooperation, andfadenya, rivalry, assertiveness,

wooyo,"The Good Village's Tree Cheers," appears as an antelope puppet masquerade that carries a small puppet representing a mother with her child on its back. Its performance was accompanied by the song: Awkawooyodenn'abalsz Dugu duman yini bi wooyo



81 I

Cheer the child and his mother The good village's tree cheers In this instance both the masquerade form and the verbal metaphors in the song work in tandem to express a single theme of badenya, unity.The troupe explained that the small rod puppet was the visual metaphor for the qualities of unity and solidarity which underlie the ideal relationship of mother and child.The masquerade's song reinforced this visual message by focusing the audience's attention on the correspondence between the sentiments that characterize the ideal relationship between the mother and child and the orientation of a prosperous village,a Dugu duman. Another critical verbal image in the masquerade song is the cheering tree,yiri bi wooyo. Every village has a large shade

fadenjugu y'o da i la The character that a person does not have Your rivals will attribute to you The character that a person does not have Your rivals will attribute to you In this song,the termfaden openly refers to jealousy and rivalry as a social fact. This masquerade character reinforces people's belief that nobody is without rivals. It is a person's rivals, who will try to malign and destroy his good name. Another important arena for exploration within many Sogo b6 performances is the relationship between men and women in Bamana society. Both men and women seem to agree on the interpretation of mother-and-child puppets which represent the essence of the muso nyuman,a morally good woman.These puppets include female puppets carrying their

tree under which people regularly gather in the heat of the day to talk and exchange news.When you enter a village where

children on their back and women nursing their children. From a woman's perspective,

there is a sense of unity and solidarity,the first thing you hear are the sounds of chatter and laughter coming from this gather-

children are the symbol of her successful life." For men,the mother-and-child image is also a powerful symbol because it involves

ing place. However,when you enter a village that is being pulled apart by rivalries and altercations, what you are greeted with is silence. During the performance of


1(6no (bird)dance, Mande Plateau, 1933.

the Dugu duman masquerade the women's chorus inserts the names of other villages in the area in each repetition of the verse.The song extends the interpretation of badenya beyond the ideal relationship of mother and child to include cooperation and amicability between young and old, men and women,the village and its neighbors,and Bamana and other ethnic groups. The character,Son-min-te-ma-na,"The Character that a person does not have," also appears as an antelope puppet and it speaks directly to the social fact of rivalry and the destructive nature of unchecked competition. Its song reads: U b'afe, son min te maa na jugu y'o da i la Son min re maa la

I 82



Duga (=hurt), Sogo bb performance, Kirango, 1980.

cultural beliefs about destiny. A man inherits his patrilineal affiliation and ascribed status

While men and women often speak with one voice in the theater on the subject

from his father, but his destiny comes from

of maternity,they do not always give the same interpretations for the relationships between men and women.One masquer-

his mother.A man's destiny is said to be determined by his mother's own successful socio-moral career.Thus,the image of the mother as a muso nyuman,the morally good woman,symbolizes her son's access to the

ade that explores the ambiguity in these relationships and which elicited different

means to achieve,to gain reputation,and to

interpretations from men and women was the character Bambara,the Favorite Wife.


This popular character focuses attention on

The image of the nursing mother is a profound symbol for both Bamana men and women,not only of maternity, but also

the problems of domestic relations. Her song reads:

of personhood.Among the Bamana a child

Ce ni bara ma na kele

receives his/her father's blood via his semen and his/her mother's blood through

K'o ye don kelenke ye nka n'a ni galomuso kelela k'a be kalo Wore k'o eta la

her breast milk.'4 Puppets representing women nursing their children not only symbolize nurturing and psychological bonding in a Western sense, but they allude to the Bamana belief that breast milk,as transformed blood,and the process

When a man fights with his favorite wife There is only one day of fighting But if he fights with his least favorite wife Then it will last for six months

of breast feeding are fundamental to the production of a child as a human being, moo or mOgo.

Although ideal behavior between cowives stresses harmony and cooperation,



the sources for women's discontent in polygamous households are manifold. Besides the hierarchy between men and

creature with three heads. During its performance it darted erratically around the dance arena,not knowing which of its heads to fol-

women that regulates behavior,there is a hierarchy among wives based on the number of years a woman has been married

low. Men said quite emphatically that this masquerade spoke to the destructive aspects

into the household.Women in polygamous households often find themselves competing with each other for scarce resources for their children. This competition can be destructive and can contribute to a woman's anxieties for her own welfare and that of her children.On a more personal and individual level,co-wives living in the same compound

of divorce. Like the masked performance, divorce disrupts alliances and pulls the household apart,leading to chaos.Women,on the other hand, based their interpretations of the masquerade on its song.They said equally emphatically that the masquerade song actually celebrated the first woman from the area who obtained a legal divorce after Independence:I-he feeling of newfound

may not even like each other. Conflict among co-wives is a popular theme in many stories and popular enter-

empowerment is what women celebrated in this masquerade's performance. Sogo 66 is a lively and engaging theater,

tainments and the source of conflict often revolves around women's sexuality:6 This is certainly the case for Barabara,the Favorite

whose continued popularity in communities in Mali is at least partially due to its ability to respond to contemporary issues and

Wife.Men praised the"favorite wife"as a muso nyuman,a woman who fostered unity

concerns.Throughout an evening's performance troupes play animal characters, representations of people and community life,and masquerades of powerful bush spir-

in the household.In contrast they derided the Galomuso,the Bad Wife,as the cause of fadenya.Women,however,were not as generous toward the character of Barabara as were men.Many women associated her with the new bride,the /cony() muso,who they referred to sarcastically as the wife whose mosquito net has no holes.This image ofthe new mosquito net referred obliquely to sexual politics where the new bride often exerts undue influence over her husband through her sexual favors. Because of her standing as the favorite wife,she is often arrogant to her senior wives and openly defies their authority,causing dissent in the household. From these women's perspective it was the power of the favorite wife's sexuality that was seen as the root cause offadenya in the household where the favorite wife gains an advantage for her-

its and genies in order to explore a multiplicity oftopics which are critical to their lives. Performances provide the community with a moral commentary on history and ethnicity and on the range of human relationships including the relationship between animals and men;and on the nature of community which is often glossed as the relationship between men,between generations and between men and women.Like folktales and other theatrical forms,these masquerade performances throw cultural values and social relationships into high relief and open them up for public scrutiny. Because the community defines the Sogo bo as entertainment, performers are given theatrical license to ponder the full range of possibilities,opinions,desires, anxieties,and fears and to engage in a cre-

self and her children over the other wives and their children. Another character,Furusa TilE, Divorce, also elicited quite different responses from

ative dialogue about Ba ma na beliefs and values,about behavior and the dynamics of social relationships. It is both in the production of this theater and in the creation and

men and from women.These differences arose in the dissonance between the interpretation of the masquerade imagery and its song.This grass masquerade appears as a

management of the dialogue that young people are given the opportunity to gain social competency.


FIG. 21

Tango (antelope), Sogo be performance, Kirango, 1980.


Sogo puppet representing an antelope Bani region Wood, metal, embossed sheeting, cloth, string. H. 237.6 cm. Antelope head belonging to the Ceko genre, from Segou.




Sogo puppet representing a ram Bozo peoplesfrom Segou region Wood, metal, fabric. H. 25.4 cm.



Sogo mask representing a lion: Waraba Segou region Wood,and pigments. H. 54 cm.






Merekun puppet representing a female character Segou region Wood. H.80 cm.

Merekun puppet representing a male character Segou region Wood,iron, pigment. H. 100 cm.

Mere comes from the name ofa legendary female figure, lain means head.


Maani puppet Segou region Wood,fiber, pigment, mastic, metal, thread. H. 27.9 cm.(figure detail) Maani puppets, which are usually small, form part of the superstructure of a theatrical armature.





Merekun puppet representing a male character

Merekun puppet representing a female character

Segou region Wood. H. 54 cm.

Segou region Wood, iron. H. 84 cm.



Maani puppets &tote region Wood, paint, fabric, hair, fiber. H.45.5 cm. The puppets reflect their times: today we find, in addition to the eternal roles (the miser, sexually promiscuous characters, etc.) puppets that may represent Bob Marley, political figures and even anthropologists.


Merekun puppet with janus head &tote region Wood, raffia, fabric, iron. H.94 cm.




Maani puppet Segou region

Wood, iron, fabric, fiber, pigment. H.91.4 cm. CAT.70

Maani group of puppets Segou region

Wood,iron, fabric, paint, feathers. H. 56 cm.


Maani group of puppets Sigou region Wood, paint, fabric, metal, fur, iron. L. 134.5 cm.




The youth masquerade theater is said to have originated within the Segou region and today is performed by five different ethnic groups:the Bozo and kimono fishermen,and the Bamana, Marka,and Maninka farmers,all who have lived in the region for hundreds of years.The origin of the theater in Bozo communities is shrouded in myth,but it clearly dates to the precolonial era. In his journal of 1878 -79 Paul Soleillet recorded a fishermen's performance in a village south of the city of Segou. His description, while brief,suggests the same basic structure of contemporary performances.(Soleillet:1886, 170) During the nineteenth century the theater initially spread among fishing villages along the rivers and then to farming communities in eastern Segou and by the end of the nineteenth century was being adopted by farming communities in the western part of the region. However,it must be emphasized that the masquerade was never unilaterally adopted by every ethnic group or community in Segou,nor did villages even in the same locale begin to play the theater during the same time period. (Arnoldi 1995:24B35). 2. Western art museums continue to confidently label Sogo bb puppets as either Bozo or Bamana often times with no field documentation associated with these pieces.The problem of ethnic labeling of puppets and masks using stylistic criteria is far more complex and in local terms is a moot point. Fishermen and farmers share a sculptural style for their Sogo be) masks and puppets and its is this shared sculptural style which contributes to people's sense of the genre's regional identity. Unlike Western museum classifications of these sculptures, people in Segou define puppets and masks as belonging to a particular group by virtue of their inclusion in either a farmer's or fishermen's performance. In local terms,it is not sculptural style(which is identical), but performance style that distinguishes fishermen's and farmer's theaters from one another. Each of the different groups claims to have a distinct style of singing,dance and music.Although masquerade forms may be identical in both fishermen's and farmer's performances,each group sings different songs, performs different dances,and plays different drum rhythms for these characters(see Arnoldi 1988,1995,and 1996) 3. Selective borrowing from other performance traditions occurs in both fishermen's and farmer's theaters.The fishermen's character Koon,an antelope,seems to have originally been borrowed from the Bozo men's associationdara. In many contemporary performances in Bamana communities, masquerades from the Ntomo and Ci-wara men's associations have been incorporated into the youth association masquerade.(See Arnoldi 1995 for a more detailed discussion of the movement of expressive forms across performance genres). 4. Although Dominique Zahan focused his research on Bamana men's initiation societies, he was aware ofthe importance of the kamalen ton and the Sago bo as avenues through which young men

and women gained knowledge and experience that they would need to participate as adults in their communities(Zahani96o,12,ftnt 3). 5. In their studies of hunters in Malinke(and by extension Bamana)society,Cisse and Cashion explore in depth the ethos of hunting and the social role of hunters in these societies(Cisse 1964,175-226 and Cashion 1982). For an extensive discussion of the interpretation of bush animal masquerades see Arnoldi 1995 and




6. At hunters'funerals or during ceremonies that take place to commemorate a hunter's death, several dances are reserved for special classes of hunters. Only men who have killed the elephant can dance the nyin-tege-foli. Hunters who have killed lions, wildcats, hyenas or buffalo dance the donso to natananin and the nyangalan (Cashion:1982,1:220). 7. As Bird and Kendall explain:In the Mande world,a name must be won not only in the arena provided by one's peers, but also in that abstract arena created by one's ancestors. This conception ofthe patrilineage as competitor is captured in the proverb:ifa y'ifadenfolo de ye, Yourfather is yourfirstfaden [rival].(Bird and Kendall 1980,14) 8. A well known proverb which expresses these sentiments states: Duga-mansa bejigifen kon fen tejigi duga-mansa-koro kan King vulture may set upon anything but nothing sets upon old King Vulture (Cashion:1982,1:245). 9. The dalimasigi offered opportunities for hunters to accomplish great deeds and to gain their reputations as heroic men. Hunters traveled widely and forged relationships with other hunters across great distances.Throughout south central Mali,the fact that hunters are often remembered as the founders of villages. (Cashion:1982,1:111-112). io. Among the Bamana,behavior is often discussed through the invocation of two concepts, badenya, mother-child-ness andfadenya, father-child-ness. Baden, mother's child,is a kinship term used to identify full siblings,i.e. children of the same mother and father. Badenya refers to those ideal qualities that underlie the relationship between full siblings i.e. amicability,cooperation,and solidarity. Badenya is extended to describe the solidarity which ideally should exist among individuals who define themselves as a group.Faden,children of the same father,includes half siblings and the children of classificatory fathers. A child addresses his father's brothers asfa,father,and their children as his faden. Half siblings like full siblings are prohibited from marrying and the relationship between half brothers embodies the potential for genealogical schism and competition for inheritable resources through the patrilineage. Fadenya denotes the quality of this relationship.The jealousy, rivalry,and competition which characterize the relationship between half brothers are also extended to include the relationship between consecutive






generations, i.e. between fathers and sons. Bird and Kendall have suggested that the dialectic between these two orientations constitutes an indigenous theory of social action (Bird and Kendall 1980,14-15). For a more complete discussion of the ways in which badenya and fadenya emerge in both the structure and content of the theater see Arnoldi 1986,1988,and 1995. Infertility is a cause for anxiety for women as well as for men.It is not only a private source of anguish,but also a public one because it threatens alliances forged between lineages at marriage (Ezra 1986,37-38). In his study of Bamana hunters,Cashion cites the well known proverb Bee i ba'bolo, Everyone is in his mother's hands,that underscores this commonly held belief throughout the society that a man's destiny derives from his mother (Cashion:1982,1:244, nt. 24). When Seydou Camara,a hunter's bard,sang the following line in the performance of the epic of Famori, he reinforces this belief."Aelogo barakayila,01 ba-la di. A man's power comes from his mother" (Cashion:1982,II, appendixi,lines 675-78 pp.798o). In her study of Bamana breast-feeding practices anthropologist Katherine Dettwyler noted, "Analogous to the belief that children of one father share the same blood by virtue of inheritance,children who nurse from the same woman are said to share the same blood through her milk. In fact,children of the same woman are related to each other on the maternal side not because they were all born from her body, but because they all nursed from her breast...Two children who nurse from the same woman are related through the process itself and cannot marry,whether they are "genetically" related or not ...This belief is reflected in the kinship terminology:a man may refer to his full brother as shin-fl (literally "breast-milk").(Dettwyler 1988,179-180) In her study of Bamana gender Maria GroszNgate provides an analysis of gender categories in Bamana society and the ways that these categories shape social relationships in ritual and everyday life.(See Grosz-Ngate,1989). In Michael Jackson's study of narratives among the Kuranko,a Mande speaking people in Sierra Leone,he identifies and analyzes the tensions associated with women's sexuality as it is expressed through various verbal art forms. (See Jackson 1982,246-254)James Brink's study of Bamana koteba theater analyzes the tensions between men and women as they are explored within these satires(See Brink 1980, 158-159). A change in marriage and family law code following Independence empowered women to seek legal divorces(Dicko:1965,476-486).







Ntomo and Kore

Among the Bamana and Maninka,initiation societies,called jow,were and sometimes still are of profound social and political significance.Some of them like the

called Janko—that prepares the girls for adulthood.The Ntomo opens the door of the Kore,and other initiation societies. Everybody knows the Ntomo song that

Ntomo,Kore,or their local equivalents, impose rites of passage:in the villages

summarizes the obligation of keeping their

where they exist, every boy has to accomplish the rituals in order to accede to

mouth;the mouth is the enemy"(Aw ye a

adulthood. Other societies such as the

secrets:"Close your mouth firmly,close your gweleya ow claw la, da dejugu ye).The Ntomo dancers hold a whip or flexible rod,

KOrnb,the Nama,the Ci-wara and many others are"power associations" in which

for it is within the framework of Ntomo that

men participate in order to gain power and protect their dependents.

gellation,to keep quiet and to suffer in silence.These mortifications will also con-

the young boys learn, by grace of ritual fla-

tinue subsequent to the Kari, initiation.

Ntomo The Ntomo,a society of the as-yet uncir-


cumcised children, is well-known in the

The Karè initiation insures the development

West thanks to its beautiful masks and the

of male identity: Where the Kore exists, every male has to be symbolically killed at

classic book by Dominique Zahan (Zahan 1960). Widespread throughout the Niger Valley, Ntomo cannot, however, be considered "universal" among the Bamana.It prevailed mainly in the Beledugu, Bamako and Mande areas, between the Niger and Bani rivers, in the Baninko,the Bendugu and the Minyankala. It still exists in many localities,although it has been altered under Muslim influence.Sometimes Ntomo initiation occurs even if the people are officially Muslim,but mask


Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood. H.45.7 cm.

the KorE,or else be considered as belonging to the world of the women and the noncircumcised boys. For this reason,the Kore and Kore initiation still exist in predominantly Muslim villages, but it is said to no longer be a Jo; masks,boliw and sacrifices have disappeared,at least officially. In the field,the KorE was never presented to me as the highest rank in the initiation course as D.Zahan describes it, but things might have changed over the course of

performances are becoming rare. In some villages,the Ntomo exists under another name:Cebilinke(Mande,Beledugu),

twenty years(Zahan 1960:138). Every seven years an age-set of teenagers is "killed at

Nyerezye(Bendugu).Some areas do not have the Ntomo,but rather Bilakoro

identity,they have to renounce the privileges of childhood,and must prove

Nanfiri or Fri Nyogoni,described in this volume by Kate Ezra and Salia Male.The Ntomo has a female branch—sometimes

their quality of cefari(brave man). Prior to this symbolic death,the neophytes are terrified,as they do not know that it is a sham

the Kore." As they resuscitate under an adult





Kore initiatesfighting with torches. The initiates call out: "It's water!It's water!", Nyizensso, 1997.

killing. Before being allowed to return to the village as grown-ups,they live for a time in the bush under the aegis of three elders.The neophytes used to be subjected to physical hardships and humiliations.' They never protest,for their fervent wish is to become adult:they want to prove their


Ntomo mask dancing, Tadiana, 1997.

• they are carved in wood of the kapokier (Bombax buonopozense),the dogora (Cordyla africana) or the mpeku(Lannea acida). • they present a prominently domed forehead.

time in the bush,they learn about herbal

• a stylized crested mane rises above the skull,like a small horn between the ears. It symbolizes the tuft of hair that is

the ancestors. After the Kore initiation, boys are indeed considered as men and

removed from the animal by the hunter right after the kill.The aim is on the one

can choose between other initiation soci-

hand to prevent the mortal vengeance of the victim's nyama,while on the other hand to utilize this power in the making of"strong"objects,boliw or siriw.

eties to increase their power. As Zahan has shown,the initiates comprise different classes,each with their own Ntomo mask dancing, Kirango, 1980.

pomorphic than realistic, all have the same characteristics:

bravery and they know that they will one day become elders themselves. During this medicine,sexuality,the cycle of life, and their obligations towards the elders and

FIG. 22

The Surukuw hyena masks, more anthro-

symbols and masks, but they are never,at least nowadays,to be seen together.In this way,one thus distinguishes the Surukuw (hyenas),the laraw (lions) and the Su/aw (monkeys).

• the ears are pointed and generally quite large. • the long snout, with a rectangular or square mouth is(together with the domed forehead)the most noteworthy





feature of this mask. • the eyes are figured by circular or square holes through which the wearer sees. Traits representing scarifications often underscore the masks—pure"style. Sometimes, notably in the Segou region, the upper jaw is fashioned in such a way as to serve as a grip for the wearer. The masks are considered to be charged with energy and,during their consecration,they receive blood sacrifices. Apparently,they were also ritually washed. Observing a Kore initiation ceremony at Diana (canton of Diedougou,subdivision of Didla,Cercle of Bamako)in 1957, Dominique Zahan noted that on the seventh day the bearers ofthe Surukuw masks washed them in order to remove the old "paint,"then roughly repainted them with lime (gwala), white cinders, red earth and blood. A few days later,this rough paint was also removed,and the masks then received a definitive paint treatment(Zahan 1960:330349). During their exhibition,the wearers of this mask most often adopt a bent position, supporting themselves on two short sticks that extend their forearms.The symbolism of the hyena,very complex,varies considerably according to the context, but within the framework of the Kore society the hyena most probably represents the initiates' efforts to perfect their secret knowledge. The laraw masks reveal the imaginary character of animals invoked by the rituals: their dress is tiger-striped or flecked like that of the panther. The Sulaw masks,inspired by a rather rare monkey(the black colobine), were mentioned for the first time by Abbe Henry. He photographed them around 1900,and these pictures were published in 1910. In their frolics these masks are always accompanied by carriers of whips,torches, and also by musicians,They are fashioned from kapokier wood (burnu;Bombax costaturn).Their form is semi-ovoid,with a prominent nose,circular holes for eyes, and a fine mouth whose edged border comprises the lips. During their performances,at the end


of the period of seclusion in the bush,the initiates wear masks and imitate the animal they are incarnating. Other important rituals are performed in the Kore holy wood (Koretu).The main Kore annual rituals, known to be rain-making,occur at the end of the dry season in the sacred bush of the society.Thunder is taken for a sign of combat between the Kore and the divine sky, but it is less a mighty battle than a "sport" with a lot of implicit knowledge.The holy wood is strictly prohibited to non-initiates, and they know that trespass would mean being hunted as fair"game." In the wood is found a piece of pottery with beneficent water,and the altars are comprised of some red and white stones and the emerging root of a particular African mahogany,ja/a (Khaya senegalensis). For the ritual,the Kore-chief brings the portable boliw that he keeps in the private quarter of his house. In the Kore rituals, present too is a quite curious instrument (the kalani), which looks like a long pole from which are suspended small packs containing the ingredients of unfinished boliw. In fact,this is not strictly speaking a boll—one does not make sacrifices to it except at the moment of its manufacture—but rather a pedagogical instrument whose aim is to explain the principles of the constitution of boliw to the initiates.The enunciation of the word "Kore" is forbidden,and this name has to be hidden beneath another one,something which


Kore admission ceremon; Nyizensso, 1997.

makes any inquiry amazingly difficult. Most of the time,one speaks of the"men's

ensiformis);the talibes(marabouts' disciples), by indiscriminately eating the

bush"and the initiation cycle is called "digging a hole."The most spectacular Kore

offerings offood accumulated in their

ritual occurs at the funerals of well renowned members of the society.The funerals ofthe"Dead of Kore"are the most presti-

Korecluga, Barhamba, 1985.

sofaw(horse-warriors), by mounting hobby

gious,and parts of these ceremonies are forbidden to non-initiates. During the funerals, vigorous men(kamalen-baw)whip each other or fight with huge torches.The initiates

horses.Sometimes they sport a horse-mask, oddly difficult to distinguish from the

claim to know remedies to prevent getting

The Kore makes use of an organization that resembles the constituent familial

burnt.In Touna (see map p.190)and some other surrounding villages,elders have proudly shown me the scars acquired during


bowls during collections;the hunters and warriors, by miming the machine-gunning and sword-handling with wooden toys;the

hyena-mask,as we see in the photograph already mentioned,taken by Griaule in 1931.

such whipping-duels. The drums ofthe Kore

communities of the village,and comprises a trans-village network of alliances.The same Kore initiation center in fact serves for sev-

(dunubaw)are more than a meter long,and the drummer—who sits on the instrument—strikes it with a ring worn on

eral villages.The post of Kore-chief rotates amongst the various founding families. It is a heavy responsibility for an individual to

the thumb,and also has a bell hanging from his left hand. The ritual buffoons,Koredubaw or

assume,and inherent to it are numerous prohibitions—including ritual chastity. Subsequent to a divinatory consultation, the charge of this post is"imposed by God," without the person concerned being asked

Korejugaw,comprise still another separate class,often emancipated in an autonomous society.They intervene during a host of occasions in village social life. The etymology"Vulture of Kore"(Koreduga), put forward by Za ha n's informants, is not always confirmed today. With their parodies,they make fun of all figures of knowledge and power:the marabout, by counting the beads of their collars of red and white ngo broad-beans(Canavalia

for his consent. He is literally captured and forcibly invested as chief of the Kore.This initiation society vigorously affirms the respect due to elders and the egalitarian character of the age-class, which,inevitably, includes individuals with as much as a seven-year difference in age. As a sign of unflagging solidarity,the members of the same initiation-cohort are declared "twins."


Koreduga equipment in a sanctuary Dye/c, 1987.

NOTES . The only woman who is part of the society,the "giver of water," is a mother of twins. It is she who takes charge of managing a few cooked meals for the"new KorE dead"during their seclusion period. 2. Some villages have solemnly prohibited the Kore,owing to the death of several initiates during their trials.







Ntomo mask Koulikoro region Wood,cowrie shells, seeds. H.29 cm.

Ntomo mask Koulikoro region Wood. H. 38.5 cm.

Ntomo female mask, with scarification, beads and encrusted cowries.

Ntomo masks mix human and animal features.


Ntomo mask Segou region Wood,cowrie shells. H. 29.5 cm.





Ntomo mask Segou region Wood. H.35 cm.


Ntomo mask Sigou region Wood,iron, brass. H.50 cm.




Ntomo mask Segou region Wood, string. H. 31.5 cm.


Ntomo mask Sikasso region Wood,cowrie shells, string. H.38 cm.



CAT. 79


Ntomo mask Segou region Wood,cowrie shells, seeds. H. 35.5 cm.

Ntomo mask Central Baniana region Wood. H. 40.5 cm




Ntomo mask Segou region Wood,cowrie shells. H.65 cm.

Ntomo mask Segou region Wood,iron. H.72 cm. An anthropomorphic Ci-wara figure is represented between the horns.



CAT 83


Monkey mask: Ngon or Suba Koulthoro region Wood. H. 27 cm.

Kore monkey mask:Suba Nossombougou Wood, metal. H.31 cm. Sula, monkey mask worn by Kore initiates after their retreat in the bush.

CAT 85

Monkey mask: Ngon Nossombougou Wood,fiber. H. 50.8 cm.

I io6





Monkey mask: Ngon

Monkey mask: Ngon

Koulikoro region Wood, metal. H.49.5 cm.

Koulikoro region Wood. H. 53 cm.


Kore monkey mask:Su/a Koulikoro region Wood. H. 25 cm.




Monkey mask:Ngon Unknown region Wood. H. 50.8 cm. CAT.90

Kore mask Marka peoples. Eastern Segou region Wood,copper, indigo. H. 30 cm.




Monkey mask:Ngon or Sula

Koulikoro region Wood,iron. H.30 cm.

Koulikoro region Wood. H. 26.5 cm.





Kore mask Marka peoplesfrom the San region Wood and metal. H. 31.5 cm.

Kore mask Marka peoplesfrom the San region Wood,iron, brass. H.31 cm.

1 112



Kore mask Marka peoplesfrom the San region

Wood. H. 30 cm.




Kore lion mask: Waraba or lora Segou region Wood, pigment. H. 48.5 cm


Kore lion mask: Waraba or lora Segou region Wood, pigment. H.46.5 cm.

I 114






Kore hyena mask:Suruku Kolokani, Mande region Wood. H.42 cm.

Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro or Sikasso region Wood. H.60 cm. The hyena is the mythical initiator of men to many of the forest's secrets. It has more than twenty secret names and is a symbol of knowledge. The crest on the head is the receptacle of dangerous, vital energy (nyama).


Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood. H.42 cm.





Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood. H. 30.5 cm.

Koth hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood,fiber, cowrie shells. H.42 cm.


Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood. H.41 cm.








Kore hyena mask:Suruku

Kore hyena mask:Suruku

Koulikoro region Wood. H.46 cm.

Sikasso region Wood. H. 51.4 cm.




Kore hyena double mask:Suruku Koulikoro region? Wood,animal hair, metal. H. 53 cm.


Kore hyena double mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood, thread, metal. H.55 cm. CAT.no

Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koutiala region Wood. H. 52 cm.

I 122




CAT. ill


Helmet mask Bamana or Mandinka peoples Wood, metal, cowrie shells. H. 54.5 cm.

Helmet mask Bamana or Mandinka peoples Wood, metal. H.63.5 cm.

Possibly a Suruku mask mixed with an antelope or wild pig. Mandinka area, possible Senufo influence.

Possibly a Suruku mask mixed with an antelope or wild pig. Mandinka area, possible Senufo influence.


Kore horse mask:Sokun Koulikoro region Wood. H.43.5 cm. Horse mask ofritual buffoons, Koredugaw.





Hobby horse: Koredugaso Koulikoro region Wood,iron, brass, cotton string. H.72 cm.


Hobby horse: Koredugaso Koulikoro region Wood. H.46.5 cm. Head of a ritual buffoon, Koreduga, wooden horse. The head represents Timba, the anteater. The ears are pierced for the attachment of adornments.The ritual buffoons ride a hobby horse in their pantomimes. They incarnate wisdom and have the right to satirize powerful people.





Hobby horse: Koredugaso

Hobby horse: Koredugaso

Koulikoro region Wood. H.36.2 cm.

Koulikoro region Wood. H.39 cm.





Hobby horse: Koredugaso

Hobby horse: Koredugaso

Koulikoro region Wood. H. 37.5 cm.

Koulikoro region Wood. H. 30 cm.



CAT 120

Hobby horse: Koredugaso Koulikoro region Wood. H.36.5 cm.







Art of the Jo Society

The art of the Bamana Jo society became known in Europe and the United States


Mother and child:Jomooni or Gwandusu Bougouni or Dioiia region Wood. H. 118.1 cm. CAT.122

Mother and child:Jomooni or Gwandusu Koulikoro region Wood. H.91 cm. Gwandusu figures represent the ideal female. The centrality ofthe mother and child sculptures within the Jo and Gwan ensembles express the importance of fertility and childbearing not just to the women but to the entire community. The Gwan statuettes of maternity or paternity are the materialization ofthe difficulty connected to the act of creation. They bear witness to the ardent will of man to create, to the presence ofthe blacksmith, to the man at the center of this activity, embodying the physical and intellectual efforts of the creator. They are therefore justly called Gwantigi(proprietor, master or chief of Gwan), Gwanfolo (first Gwan)and Gwanjara ha (great lion of Gwan), which are also male first-names, and Gwandusu (heart of Gwan), a female first-name, incarnating the ardent will, the divine and human spirits of the creation of fire.

north by the town of Didila, and on the west by the Baoule River. It is also found in some village groups on the west bank of

before Jo itself was known.' In the late 19505 there appeared on the art market a

the Baoule River north of the major town of

group of Bamana sculptures unlike any other Bamana art forms then known in

Bougouni,such as Banan, Keleya,and Jitumu. In the 195os and 19605 their)

museums or private collections. Several were included in Robert Goldwater's landmark exhibition of Bamana art at the

extended as far east as the region of Kinian,

Museum of Primitive Art in New York (Goldwater196o:nos.87,91-99). With no documentation with which to identify or interpret them other than that they originated in the southern Bamana region around the town of Bougouni,Goldwater mistakenly referred to them as"queens" (1960:17).These figures, as well as others in a different style and several forms of masks and heads,constitute the visual ornaments(masiriw) of the Jo society,and of Gwan,one oflo's ritual components. These visual elementsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;sculptures,

as far west as the cantons of Gouana, Gouanediaka, Ba Sidibe,and Kouroulamine, and as far south as Odienne(Paques 1954:64; Person1968,1:60).Jean-Paul Colleyn has also noted the existence ofJo among Senufo people who do not practice Poro,in the regions of Kinian, Boundiali,and Sikasso (Colleyn, pers. corn.). Although many villages have abandoned or diminished their participation in Jo,today a strong concentration of villages still practice initiation in the Baninko region south of Didila (Male1995). In the villages where Jo exists, membership is mandatory for all the young men of Approximate Extent ofthe Jo Society

masks,costumesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;are what the Bamana call mafilefEnw,flelifenw,or lajefenw, "things to look at." They are what attract and focus the attention of audience and participants at performances and rituals and condense and convey the meaning of the event.The following essay will describe the form and meaning of the "things to look at"associated with Jo and Gwan.

The Jo Society and its Rituals The Jo society is located in southern Mali, particularly in the area bounded on the east by the Bagoe River,on the south by the border with Ivory Coast,on the




the families that practice it (as opposed to the families that practice another initiation association,such as Korno).Jo differs from

Female figure Bougouni or Dioila region Wood. H. 135 cm.

other Bamana associations in that young women are also initiated,although their rituals are shorter and less demanding. Blacksmiths,who are so prominent in other

Standing female figure with vessel for the Jo and Gwan societies.

Bamana associations such as Korno,do not play leadership roles in Jo,and other nyarnakalow or artisan groups are not admitted into Jo at all. Initiation into Jo takes place every seven years. During that time,three groups of boys are circumcised,one group every other year,creating the pool of candidates to be initiated in the seventh year (Male 1995:372-80).This preliminary period is considered a time for"opening the eyes" (nye yele),a process by which the boys are allowed to see objects, places,and people that have significance for the Jo.Their"Jo learning"(Jo Wan)intensifies about six months before the actual initiation,as the boys are given nightly instruction in Jo songs and dances and taught to make the costumes they will wear as new initiates (Ezra 1986:15-16; Male 1995:380-83). The actual initiation is performed in April or May of the seventh year, at the very beginning of the rainy season.The proceedings begin on a Saturday night, when the candidates give a demonstration of the Jo songs and dances they have learned.The following afternoon they must enter the "elephant house,"a temporary construction with a carved wooden elephant head above its entrance.'Jofaga or"Jo killing" occurs that Sunday night, following the boys'entrance into the elephant house.The candidates are symbolically killed by touching them with a lance under the arm,and then revived.They spend the next few days on retreat in the forest, after which they return to the village as Jodenw,"children oflo." They dress in the costumes made of fibers decorated with red and white seeds that they prepared during their period of training. Calledfoo yira,"to show the fibers," this event enables them to present their new




status as initiates to their families and neighbors.

Male figure Boligouni or Dioi1 / 4 region

In the following weeks and months the Jodenw undertake their lo yaala,their"Jo

Wood. El 110 cm.

journey"to villages near and far where they have relatives, where their families may contract marriages,or where important sites related to Jo are located. In these villages they perform Jo songs and dances, demonstrating their newly gained knowledge of Jo matters.They return home a few months later for kanyenko,the ritual that marks the completion of initiation.They are washed with soap and water and anointed with oil to rid them of the medicines and impurities associated with their status as Jodenw. Henceforth they are known as Jo kenyEnw,"those who make sure the Jo is done well"(Male 1995:173-174).They will be responsible for training the next group of initiates when the seven-year cycle begins again. In addition to the seven-year cycle of initiations,the Jo society also has an annual cycle of rituals,the most important of which is called Jo ko don (the day of the Jo affair) according to my informants,orjara son,"the offering to the sweetness of life," according to Male (1995:316). Jara son takes place at the beginning of the rainy season3 and has as its goals to renew the annual cycle of the seasons,to encourage the fertility of both women and crops,to renew oaths to honor the ancestors,and to strengthen the Jo society's ritual objects by refreshing them with sacrifices. lora son culminates in a public ritual in which the leaders of Jo remove the Jornbgbniw or Jomooni(Jo statues)from thefaro bugu,the house in which the ritual objects oflo are stored,and carry them in a dancing procession to the lineage's main vestibule,the seat of its ancestors.The Jotigi(Jo chief) and two other high officials al째 purify them by pouring ladles of water over them, after which post-menopausal women thoroughly wash them with warm water and soap,anoint them with shea oil, and decorate them with beads (Ezra 1986:22; Male 1995:346-372).The statues,a nd the Jo itself,



are cleansed and renewed for another year.

Jomogoniw and Gwandenw, Sculptures of Jo and Gwan


The annual appearance of the sculptures at

Bougouni or Dioda region. Dated 1432-1644 AD Wood. H.96.5 cm.

Gwan and its Rituals

Jo and Gwan rituals was,and still is in some

Some villages that practice Jo society rituals also possess a cult called Gwan,which

ordinary sight.Their impact can be

may or may not be incorporated into Jo.

explained in part by the fact that the fig-

Since the Jo society is centered upon a number of distinct ritual objects,each

ures emanate from the lara bugu,the locus

with its own name,officials, rituals,and powers; it is possible that Gwan is one of

villages,considered a marvelous and extra-

of the lo's sacred objects,and by their ritual washing,which gives tangible proof of the renewal and purification of Jo. But just as

these. Gwan,whose name is the same as that of the high furnaces used for smelt-

striking are their visual forms and the variety and nature of the persons they repre-

ing iron once used by Bamana blacksmiths, has as its primary purpose to help women who have problems conceiv-

sent. The Jo and Gwan figures are larger and more massive than other Bamana figures.

ing and bearing children.On the"day of Gwan," which occurs at the beginning of the rainy season,women promise that if

Often standing three to four feet tall,they have thick cylindrical torsos, broad shoul-

they are subsequently able to bear children they will offer additional

ders,and smoothly curved ovoid heads. Their arms and legs connect to shoulders and hips in a fluid manner, unlike the

sacrifices to Gwan and dedicate their children to it. The relationship between Gwan, female fertility, and the smelting of iron

abrupt angular transitions seen in many other types of Bamana sculpture,including the Nyeleni sculptures used by new Jo initi-

has intriguing parallels in rituals related to iron work in many parts of Africa (Herbert

ates in their performances,described below. The Jo and Gwan sculptures represent both females and males, whereas other types of

1993). The Gwan festivities closely resemble the annual ceremonies of./o in that the highlight is the public display of sculptures, which are called Gwandenw or Gwanyiriw. In style and iconography,the Gwan sculptures closely resemble the Jornogoniw,or sculptures appearing at the annual rituals di째.As during Jara son,the

Bamana sculpture are almost exclusively female.They depict people in a variety of postures and gestures and wearing or carrying a diverse array of objects. A seated mother and child and a seated or standing male figure form the central couple in both Jo and Gwan ensembles.Some of the fig-

Gwan sculptures are removed from their house,washed,in this case by the women

ures, both female and male,wear or carry objects associated with occult powers,such as amulet-studded hats,animal horns filled

who have come to ask Gwan's help, anointed with shea butter,and adorned with beads.The groups of Gwan sculptures were described as being somewhat larger than the Jo sculptures. Whereas most vil-

with spiritually-charged substances,and protective charms in the form of belts, packets hung around the neck or under the arm, and pouches slung across the chest.lo and Gwan figures may carry spears or lances or

lages participating in Jo claimed to have two or at most three lombgbniw,representing a woman with a child and a man,

wear knives strapped to their upper arms, and several are depicted riding on horseback like the Bamana warriors of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A few

the villages that had Gwandenw described groups of between three and seven sculptures representing a wider "cast of characters" in addition to the central pair.

of the male sculptures are portrayed playing musical instruments,such as a flute or the manko (iron gong)and daro (iron bell) that are played at lo rituals. Some of the female


Mother and child:lomooni or Gwandusu


figures are portrayed with pottery vessels on their heads.Some gesture towards their breasts with their hands,which the Bamana interpret as a sign of respect. A few of the male figures turn their heads to the side, which may also be a sign of respect since the Bamana consider it disrespectful to look directly at a person of higher rank. It may be fruitful to look at the relationships suggested by the groups of sculptures,especially the relationships between men and women and between those who exert power and those who submit to it (Ezra1986:30-38).The central couple and some of their"companions"or "side people"(f?,mogow)are shown as having extraordinary powers,as evidenced by the spiritually-charged items they wear and carry. Others act in ways that suggest submission to authority and to their prescribed roles in society, like the female figures that carry pots of water on their heads or gesture to their breasts and the males that play musical instruments and turn their heads to the side.The ensembles of sculptures show a balance between extraordinary and ordinary individuals, between those who possess great powers and those who defer to them. Male and female figures are found in both groups.This balance and complementarity corresponds to two fundamental concepts in Bamana culture. One is badenya, "mother-childness," denoting children of the same father and mother,who are said to be cooperative and supportive of one another.The other isfadenya,"father-childness," referring to children of the same father but different mothers,whose relations are usually considered to be fraught with jealousy and competition for power.As explained by Charles Bird and Martha Kendall,these concepts underlie the two fundamental models of behavior for the Bamana,one aimed at furthering an individual's"reputation and renown"and the other based upon the individual's societal "rights and obligations"(1980:14).These models of behavior are not mutually exclusive and both are essential to the proper functioning of society. In the variety and balance of the men




Female figure:lomooni Bougouni or Diode, region Wood. H.94 cm.

and women they portray,the ensembles of Gwan sculptures seem to embody these essential concepts(Ezra 1986:30-38). The ubiquity and centrality of the mother and child sculptures within the Jo and Gwan ensembles express the importance of fertility and childbearing not just to Bamana women but to the entire community. Usually seated in honor on a chair, laden with power-charged amulets on her hat,and wearing a knife on her arm,the figures of mothers and babies also seem to embody the idea of extraordinary forces. These are the forces that Jo and Gwan utilize to augment and assure fertility as well as those that women can possess and pass on to their children. Gwan's express purpose is to address problems of infertility.Jo has as its aim the harmonious continuation of society.The Jomogoniw and Gwandenw, with the figures of mothers and children at their center, are visual manifestations of these goals.

Jonyeleniw — Sculptures for Jo

Initiation In addition to the ensemble of sculptures that are displayed at the annual renewal rituals fork and Gwan,there are art forms—sculptures, masks,costumes— that are seen every seven years in the context of Jo initiation. During the period of travel (yaala)that the "children ofk"(Jodenw) embark upon following initiation,they perform Jo songs and dances to display their knowledge of Jo, provide entertainment, and earn gifts of money,cotton,and food for the final rituals(kanyenko) performed on their return to their home village.The


Male figure Bougouni or Dioila region Wood, metal. H.69 cm. Rare example of helmet sculpture with a male figure wearing a hunter, warrior, or diviner's hat

boys of each village or,in the case of larger villages with more initiates,of each lineage, belong to a Jo shi,or Jo kulu,"Jo type or band,"each of which has a distinctive type of performance style,costume, musical instrument,and in some cases,sculpture. The most frequently encountered group is called kenyew (or nkenyew), named after the musical instruments they play.These are hollow wood cylinders of varying sizes



with a central slit flanked by grooves which are scraped with a stick.The Somaw or sotigiw,"masters of the horse," are dis-

incorporate the physical characteristics that are considered attractive and visually pleasing in a young Bamana woman (Ezra 1986:

tinguished by the wooden horses they "ride" during their performances.These

18-21). In the hands of the new k members, they seem to express the young men's inter-

are wooden armatures wrapped in fibers,

est in marriage,for which they will be eligible

covered with red and white seeds,and fit-

following the completion of their initiation.

ted with a carved wood horse head. Other

Jo itself is concerned with reinforcing kinship and marriage relations between particular

groups ofk initiates include ntokofa,characterized by comedic performances of song,dance,and mischievous word play accompanied by flutes and drums; Jonburufiye,"slave hornblowers," who play an orchestra of wooden horns; npara, named after its musical instrument,scrap-

families and lineages.The itinerary followed by the new initiates on theiryaa/a(journey) often coincides with villages in which their families have made marriage alliances in the past and from which they themselves may

ers made of hollow bamboo cylinders; and

find suitable wives.Considered together with the Gwandenw and Jomogoniw,the figura-

numu Jo.

tive sculptures ofk seem to express funda-

Numu Jo,thelo performance group for blacksmiths,the only nyamakalaw admit-

mental concerns for marriage and the family,

ted intok,is considered among the most entertaining and successful. Unlike other

values that will ensure the maintenance and continuity of the society into the next generation.

groups ofk initiates,the blacksmiths wear costumes of woven cotton rather than fibers.Their performances are distin-

Masks and "Heads"

guished by the use of wooden figure

In addition to the figurative sculptures seen

sculptures called Jo Nyeleniw,"little Nyele" (a girl's names)or "little pretty one,"sug-

in the performances of new Jo initiates and at the annual rituals of Jo and Gwan,the art

gesting the sculpture's role as an

of the k society includes a number of

ornament or embellishment to enhance

masks and "heads"(kunw).These range

the performance. Other groups of Jo initi-

from the costumes of uncircumcised boys to the headpiece worn by the Nanfiri,one of the most powerful leaders of Jo.

ates, particularly kenye and ntokofa,also make use of Nyeleni sculptures to increase the amount of gifts they receive from their audiences (Ezra 1983:1o8 9).6 The Nyeleni sculptures are carried by Jodenw as they sing and dance,or are

Before boys are circumcised and initiated into the Jo society,they are known as bilakorow and have a society of their own,

placed on the ground near the dance area

called Bilakoro Nanfiri or Fri Nyogoni(little version offri). Its names refer to Nanfiri,one

(Ezrai986:fig.3; Imperatoi983:fig.14). For

of the leaders of Jo. Like the Ntomo society,

the performances,the sculptures are washed and rubbed with oil so they are dark and shiny.They are adorned with loin-

which is the most well known Bamana association of uncircumcised boys(Zahan 1960), Bilakoro Nanfiri is an opportunity for the

cloths, headties, beads,feathers,and other ornaments,These sculptures are quite different in form from the Gwandenw and Jomogoniw. Always representing standing

boys to learn lessons about cooperation, obedience, ritual,secrecy,and sacrifice that are essential to their preparations fork

females,they are smaller and more angular and geometric than the sculptures seen at the annual rituals ofk.They have prominent,conical breasts,slender torsos,and jutting buttocks.The Nyeleni sculptures

mask and costume are discussed below, some of the members of Bilakoro Nanfiri and Fri Nyogoni wear woven cotton cloth masks and one-piece body suits. Some versions are dyed light brown with earth pigments while

membership. Like the adult Nanfiri whose



Staff with anthropomorphic head and bundle Koulikoro region Wood,fiber, pigment, power substances. H.60 cm.

others are made of blue fabric.The head-

1931 by Marcel Griaule's Dakar-Djibouti

coverings have holes for the eyes and are

Mission for the Musee de l'Homme in Paris:* According to Paques,the arch-

decorated with rows of cowrie shells,tufts of white fur,or clumps of quills or dried

shaped konikunw represent either the rain-

grasses., One of the remarkable sights to which

bow or the crest of a rooster, both of which are important elements in her symbolic

the candidates fork membership have

analysis olio beliefs (1954:68-m78,1m). This interpretation could not be confirmed

their"eyes opened"as part of the initiation rituals is the "elephant"or"elephant house",sama,sama bon.(Arnoldi and Ezra 1992:108-109; Male1995:138-139 and Male

by my informants,who said that the word koni has no meaning and that the konikunw,like other elements of the cos-

hereafter)! Completing the structure's

tumes worn by the Jo initiates during their

resemblance to its namesake is the sama kun,"elephant head," affixed to the front. These huge(up to six feet long) wooden

performances, was a masiri(decoration)for the Jo (Ezra 1983:98-100). The visual highlight of the

elephant heads are carved of wood and painted with red, black and white earth

performances of the Jo initiates known as Sotigiw or Somaw("horse masters,"

pigments in linear and geometric patterns.

"soldiers," or"men of occult knowledge")

They have a hollow cylindrical neck, by which they are affixed to the elephant

are the "horses"they ride (Ezra 1983:103105).These are wood armatures consisting

house,and a dome-shaped or elongated head from which extend large paddle-like

of a back and four legs, which are wrapped and draped with fibers strung with red and

ears,and the long tusks and trunk (Arnoldi

white seeds to create the horses' bodies.

and Ezra 1992:figS. 5-io to 5-14). Although

A separately carved wood horse head is attached to the front.The initiates straddle

elephants are rarely seen in the Bamana regions of Mali today,the animal's associa-

phant's body an imposing phase offo initi-

the horses, which are also supported by ropes around the dancers' necks.They also carry carved wood lances that further reinforce their resemblance to warriors.This

ation and the sight of the soma bon a memorable visual experience.

group ofJodenw is known for the special effects incorporated into their

Carved wooden "heads"are also associated with two of the performance

performances,such as making their "horses" whinny or leave real droppings on the dance area (Male 1995:243,413).

tions with physical and spiritual power (nyama), make passage through the ele-

groups of Jodenw 째rid. initiates,the Kenyew and the Sotigiw.The Kenyew wear

The horse heads (e.g. Goldwater

crests called koni kunw.These are commissioned from blacksmiths,and are attached

196o:fig. 37) have short cylindrical necks with

to fiber caps or wigs which the initiates make themselves.The initiates also deco-

They have long,slightly convex muzzles with

rate the konikunw with fiber fringes,

by grooves.The ears are usually long and point backwards,The eyes are represented by square or rounded bulges.Incised zigzags, circles,or bands of cross-hatching decorate the surface of the horse heads.Similar horse heads are used by members of the kore duga class of the Kore society,although these are

beads,seeds,and porcupine quills.The konikunw are essentially flat,two dimensional crests with openwork designs rising from an oval base pierced with holes for attachment to the fiber cap.They are symmetrical and shaped like an arch,either curved or pointed.Some have small human figures or animal heads integrated into their designs.Seldom published,9four examples of konikunw were collected in

holes for attaching them to the horse bodies. bulbous tips on which the mouth is indicated

attached to simpler, pole-like horse bodies (Zahan 1960:162, pls. XVIb,XIXa). The most powerful mask or head associated with Jo is that worn by the official



known as Nanfiri or Noonfri.The Nanfiri plays a prominent role during Jo initiation, escorting the candidates and correcting their behavior (Ezra 1983:70-71). He also is the central figure in one of the annual rituals of Jo,the noonfri son,"sacrifice to noonfri."As described by Male,this public ritual precedes Jam son,during the beginning of

mask resembling this description is in the collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art" and another was acquired by the Musee National du Mali in 1989(Male 1995:222-228). A number of carved wooden masks called Nanfiri have appeared in collections

the rainy season. It involves both communal and individual sacrifices to the

outside of Mali in recent years,'3although their identification, origin, and relationship to Jo have not been confirmed.These wood-

Nanfiri's ritual object,called Namankoro,

en face masks generally have curved oval

which is usually kept inside the Jara bugu

faces,thin delicate noses,and heavy-lidded

or Jo house but is removed for this event." First several chickens and a young goat are

eyes.Some bear a strong resemblance to the lomOgoniw and Gwandenw figures dis-

sacrificed,and the Nanfiri addresses a long

played at annual rituals of Jo and Gwan

prayer,asking for good health,successful marriages, plentiful crops, peace,and other

(McNaughton1995:502). One has an enormous boll, or mass of sacrificial materials,

benefits for the community at large during

atop its white-painted wood face. As more

the coming year. Later,the individuals pre-

research is done on the art and rituals of

sent,including local people and guests from other villages, offer chickens to be

the Jo society, it is hoped that the meaning and role of these intriguing and enigmatic

sacrificed to Namankoro,asking it to pro-

objects will be revealed.

vide assistance in specific personal matters or thanking it for assistance provided over the past year. In the evening,one or


more Nanfiri perform,singing songs that

The sculptures of Jo and Gwan,as well as

tell of the origin of Jo, its acquisition by the village, and the functions of its leaders.

the masks and heads seen at Jo initiations and annual rituals, are indeed "things to

The Jarason ritual takes place the follow-

look at"(mafilefenw),things that visually

ing day,and the Nanfiri is among the Jo leaders who officiate (Male 1995:288-315).

animate and focus the rituals in which they appear.They range from elegant sculptural

Male's observations about the costume and mask worn by Nanfiri during

forms decorated with beads and rubbed with oil until they glisten,to the powerful

his public appearances conform to the

Nanfiri kun,caked with sacrificial blood and

descriptions by my informants (Ezra 1983:71-72; Male 1995:158-165).The

bristling with the pieces of animal, bird, and

costume is a one-piece jumpsuit with long arms and legs, made of woven cotton cloth dyed with red or yellow/tan earth pigments or painted with brown bogolan or mudcloth patterns.The mask,called Noonfri kun or Namankoro kun,is likewise

plant matter that endow it with power. Whatever their form or composition,these "things to look at" both entertain and instruct their viewers in the meaning and power of Jo.

made of cloth,sewn onto a wooden armature, with two holes in front for the eyes. It is covered with the feathers of raptor birds (eagles,vultures,calaos), porcupine quills, and fur. A small piece of the Namankoro ritual object is also affixed to the mask.A

I dedicate this essay to the memory ofAlain Chaffin,a kind and generousfriend and a model for a life well-lived:art,ideas,a lovingfamily,and a cat on one's lap.




The first thorough account of the initiation of new Jo members and of their costumed performances of songs and dances appeared in an article by French anthropologist Viviana Paques (1954). The first reference to the important role of figurative sculpture in Jo rituals was made by Pascal James Imperato (1974: nos.66,97;1983). In 1978 I spent eleven months in Mali doing research on the Jo society and its sculptural forms. Although I was not able to witness any Jo rituals or see the large figurative sculptures known as lomagoniw or Gwandenw,I was fortunate to be able to speak with many Jo practitioners over a broad area and was able to describe the role of the sculptures and other art forms in Jo society activities(Ezra 1983,1986; Arnoldi and Ezra 1992). On my visits to villages where the Jo is practiced, I was always accompanied by a researcher from the Musee National du Mali. Following my departure various members of the museum staff embarked on a decade-long project to more fully document the Jo society, particularly in the region called Baninko,south of Dioila. The result is a rich trove of photographs,videos,and audiotapes deposited at the museum in Bamako. Ethnologist Salia Male,who participated in the museum's research project and was himself initiated into the Jo society, has written a doctoral thesis on Jo initiation rituals and objects which confirms the broad outlines of my own research and fills in many of the details. More importantly, it extends our understanding of the meaning oflo(Male 1995). The present essay combines material from my own fieldwork with information from Male's account. I would like to thank Daniel Britz of Northwestern University Library for making Male's dissertation available to me. 2. According to Male,the ritual of entering the elephant house is intended to keep the lo pure by scrutinizing the genealogies of the candi-





dates. Because many Bamana no longer follow older patterns of marriages arranged between particular lineages,this ritual has had to be abandoned in many villages (Ma1e1995:139144).The elephant house ritual is found especially in villages in the Baninko region, but was not part of the Jo initiation proceedings in villages further south,such as in the Sibirila region. Salia Male witnessed two celebrations ofjam son,one that occurred in July1985 and another in May1991(Male 1995:318). These ritual objects include Sokun, Jo saman, Jojara, Namankoro,Suu,N'ko bara,Ntorolen, each of which is owned by one of the classes of Jo initiates(Male1995:207). According to Male, Nyele is the name of a firstborn daughter and also the name of the first woman created. He sees the Jonyeleni sculpture as the miniaturization of the soul of the first woman (1995:216-217). In the 198os Salia Male witnessed Joneyeleniw being used by groups of kenye initiates in Baninko and was told that the sculptures were a new addition to their performances (1995:218, fn. 2). He questioned this, because Paques described and photographed a nyeleni sculpture in a kenye performance in the early 19505 (Paques 1954:102, p1.11) and because they can be seen in even earlier photographs. My informants stressed the origin and primary use of nyelenifigures by blacksmiths, but indicated that they could also be used other groups ofJo initiates (Ezra 1983:108-109). I suggest that it may be these other groups (including kenye), and not the blacksmiths,who have adopted this practice relatively recently. With the decline of participation in lo,it is possible that blacksmiths are incorporated into groups of initiates other than numu Jo,and that these groups may adopt features of the numu Jo performance. An early twentieth century post-




10. 11.

12. 13.

card seems to support this hypothesis. It represents six kenye members with their characteristic costumes and musical instruments and two Jo initiates dressed identically to my informants'descriptions of numu Jo, with cloth costumes,seed necklaces,feather hats,and hoe-shaped wooden objects carried over their shoulders. On the ground next to one of these numu Jo performers is a nyelenifigure. Although we do not know the circumstances under which this photograph was taken,it seems to suggest the interpenetration of kenye and numu Jo groups that might have led to the adoption of figure sculpture by the kenye group. They resemble an early twentieth century drawing of a Ntomo costume which lacked the many-horned wooden face mask that has come to be associate with Ntomo in the literature about Bamana art(de Zeltner 1910:322). Georges Meurillon, personal communication, July 6,1989. Meurillon,formerly a photographer for the Musee National du Mali,observed an elephant house in May1989. Examples of konikunw can be found in London, Sotheby Parke Bernet 1977: lot 97;Washington, Museum of African Art 1976:fig.13a; and Adams 1982: no.18. They are numbers 31.74.1590,1591,1592,and 1657. The ritual object known as namakoro and its mask,Namankorokun,should not be confused with Nama,an initiation society found elsewhere in the Bamana area. Personal communication,William A. Fagaly,July 1992. Personal communication,Charles Davis,August 6,1992; February 12,1985; October 12,1984.





The Jo and the Gwan

What is Jo?

complexity and its sacredness.This type of

This is the question I posed to Klenko Togola,Jojeli,"herald of Jo,"from the village of Fadaabugu.This was to aid my investigations concerning the Jo cult,following my own initiation in 1985 into suu,

answer, rather irksome,constantly confronts the enquirer who,at best,gets as response that"the Jo,this is our ancestral thing,it is

"the dead." His response was,"this year is

say,"fo bali, not prior to, not during, not after

not a year for speaking the word of Jo."

its time, but the "thing to do,"ke ta,the thing to be lived,to practice in its time.

Indeed,the grand manifestations di° had taken place three years earlier,in1982.To break the silence that followed this answer, my next question was naturally about the next date set fork, celebrations.

the years.The count is made through six

and,for the same reason, I invite the reader to live it through reading.

Jo is a term that connotes—according to G. Dieterlen and Y. Cisse (1972:12)—"the secret

"entry ofJo"and Jofaa,"Jo killing," had already taken place in certain villages dur-

initiating society,a cult;the secret;to be right,from where dyo dyo,'truth,'that

ing April and May,but the initiates still had around six to seven months of initiatic

which is rigorously exact; wash,cleanse and

Klenko,the same Jojeli, I again posed the same question,for it seemed to me essential to be able to situate the nature of the subject that was preoccupying me. Furthermore, I wanted to avoid any misin-

sworn to upon an altar (...) by extension an

by extension purify." More than these concepts,Jo practices are organized around a certain number offundamental ideas which the initiation candidate puts into practice or undergoes during the rites.The accent is particularly placed upon: •

same Jo officiant responded:"This year, one does not speak of Jo." Why?"Because,"

"the essence,the bone of the thing": This has to do with physical maturity, with the essence,even the quintessence of a body,which does not reveal itself

he said,"it is the year of Jo and Jo is here."

until the body is absolutely rid of the

This negation of expressing Jo through speech is at once indicative of its extreme

accessory which covers it and which is likely to corrupt it.

terpretation of my intentions. But this

and visually pleasing in a young Bamana woman.

Concepts of Jo

period in France, I hurried back to Mali in June 1989 in order to take part. Upon my arrival, I found that the rituals oflo doo,

life to undergo. During an interview with

Statues such as this represent the "beautiful young woman of the Jo," Jonyeleni. The new initiates travel for several months to neighboring villages with these wood figures. They advertise their new adult status and their desire for marriage. The Nyeleni sculptures incorporate the physical characteristics that are considered attractive

its existence. At the risk,thus,of breaking a majork prohibition,or to say that which is not said, I live the Jo through my writings

lowing Jo ceremonies would have to be held in 1989.So after my initial university

Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or Diaz region Wood, beads, fiber. H. 51 cm.

Because living the thing as it is, in real time and in the absolute,in this case remains the only means of conveying and demonstrating

"Last year," Klenko responded, imperturbably,"we started the counting of years,and the seventh,that is the year of lo." According to this calculation the fol-


our custom."This conveys one of the major prohibitions off° which is"the thing not to








Initiates of Jo (Jodenw) wearing a bla (loincloth) and a ngo bean-belt. They carry their musical instrument, jonburu (slave-hornblower). Musee National du Mali. FIG. 29

Jodenw ofthe Sotigw type(horsemen)or Somanw (miracle-workers), seated on their horses. FIG.30

Jonburu (slave-hornblower) Jodenw play and dance. Musee National du Mali. FIG. 31

Jogonjigi rite, "descent ofJo's monkeys': where the neophytes'return to the village after a week ofretreat in the bush. They wearfiber skirts and carry "fetish batons". Musee National du Mali. FIG.32


The children who will comprise the next septennial Jodenw pool play their Jo instruments while turning around their covered elders. Musee National du Mali.





FIG. 33

FIG. 35

The Jodenw lain out in boy-girl alternating order. Musee National du Mali.

A Jo initiate (Jo-den)playing the kenyen in Denyenkoro, near Dioila. Musee National du Mali.




Ensemble ofhorses(Jodenw Sotigiw or Somanw), with bonnets and 'fetish batons': Musee National du Mali.

Anointing ofJomooniw by the eldest woman oftheJo chiefand two other women. Musee National du Mali.

Jomooni statuette and the sanctuary (Jara bugu) where sacred Jo objects are kept. Musee National du Mali.




145 1

C131.)3108d IHDI8AdOD 9t'i I


"purity":The term Jo reflects the rela-

Female figure:Jonyeleni

tionship of the soul in the great beyond

Bougouni or Dioila region Wood. H.61 cm.

when it comes to preparing the corpse for burial.The funerary cleansing is

bone"(i.e. venerable).On the other hand, he who attracts the negative


called ka su Jo(purifying the dead),

influence of Jo—by breaking a prohibition—will be killed by Jo before his natural time,and he becomes a negative

Female figure:Jonyeleni

washing the cadaver, ridding it of all

dead of Jo.'

Central Bamana region Wood,string, iron, cowrie shell. H. 61 cm. This Nyeleni belonged to a blacksmith of the Jo society.

dirt,of every trace or bodily stain,and rendering it materially clean,"pure." "the purifier"(Jo boa): According to the gender of the deceased,the corpse undergoes its ritual cleansing by a man or a woman called Jo boa.This term also conveys the Bamana idea about the advent of the cults of creation,of the Creator,and of the purification of the body in view of its return to the Supreme Being. Among the Bamana practitioners °fir),the female lo boa purifyer represents the mythic woman found at the cult's origin.This function reverts as of right to the eldest woman of the lineage which has the property of Jo in its possession. Each year she washes the Jo moon!,statuettes or material representations of the Jo adept's soul and,every seven years, also cleans the neophytes during the rite called kenyenkwo,(washing of impurities), marking the liberation of the Jodenw (children of Jo). • "the cathartic covenant":Jo connotes the principal element of the relationship the Bamana call sinankunya, "cathartic covenant." In this sense,Jo is the founding principle,the means of establishing a sacred union,a bond, between two individuals or groups wishing to live in peace,in an indispensable and harmonious corn-

Functions of Jo Every"man ale.,"(Jo ce), adept of Jo, must make of each of the ideas set forth above his reason for living. He must defend them and protect them at the cost of his own life. The Bamana man acquires and affirms his "state of manhood"(ceya),through their knowledge,the mastery of techniques and their application,as well as through respecting their prohibitions. It is precisely here that the road commences,and which will unfailingly lead him towards the ancestors and God.This path inevitably passes through genealogical channels, where the closest link is the father (fa),symbol of plenitude and accomplishment. He who manages to respect the way traced by the father despite the risks of"straying,"follows (in Bamanan eyes) his heritage (facinyen). And this will eventually lead him towards his origins—human,animal,and divine.The Jo initiation is based on trials which are psychological and physical, individual or collective,devoid of any leniency whatsoever,and which,founded on their cognitive and moral contents,go to model the personality of the individual involved. It confers upon him a state of physical and mental equilibrium necessary for a good life in society. It is at this price that the society itself acquires its cohesion and stability, because all its

plementarity. Once this sacred relationship is established by the act offoundation,called Jo doo,its adepts are at once placed under the beneficial or baleful forces of the cult."To put the Jo" is to rekindle the original oath. He

members have in a way been cast in the same initiatic or educational mold.

who observes the terms of the oath benefits from the protection of Jo, he is

Certain accounts—with a mixture of myth,

fortified during his lifetime and his spirit is honored after his death.This makes of him a kolo koro,"ancient

Origin myths and the organization of Jo history of populations and the rapport amongst different groups—are the identityreference ofthe lineages that possess Jo and the axis upon which their beliefs are organized.



I 148



Female figure:Jonyeleni Sikasso region Wood,string, fabric, beads. H.62 cm.

According to one of these myths (S. Male:95)3,"Jo is the property of Mari,(Mari ka Jo); Mari being the spirit of the water. Mari,leaving the water,started to live on

went into the house. In the end,Jo became a `men's affair.'The men extricated Jo from the well,which was—the myth specifies—a big gourd (kulukutu).They broke it open and


the sand and the rocks of the riverbanks.

Female figure:Jonyeleni

From this comes the motto:"Mari, Master

Central Bamana region

of laying on the sand and rocks,""Master of limits,""such is the voice of Jo."Jo is the

the lion was the good,the wise,the agree-

"moored thing"(ko mani len),"hidden from

able;the elephant was the'shooter'(the

view,"the cult of the thing hidden deep in the confines of the abyss.That is to say,

purifier); the hyena was the'man killer of dead'(sacrificer); the hare was the'herald' (Jojeli); the panther was the'red man of

Wood. H.71 cm.

the principle of creation and of aquatic origins,far distant from the present-day. Another myth (S. Male 95:93-101), goes as follows:"Jo was in the forest of nkolobe. It was the women who discovered Jo,and the youngest of them called out to an elder: Woman elder,come see! A very,

discovered,inside,a group of beings. Each one had a status,a function that he exercised according to personal characteristics:

men'(dangerous).Then,drawing inspiration from the organization of this(would-be) society,the men organized themselves. Each affiliated himself to a model-being whose characteristics—ideational,comportmental, even morphological—he incarnated. From

very, great big thing is here in the forest.'

here came the birth of new beings: person-

The female elder went to see Jo.The

ages masked or unmasked, material figurations or fetishes whose principles are:

women came back home with Jo. Arriving at the outside,the women called to the men:`Men! Big Man,enter you all into the house.'The women said to the other women:Come outside!The men entered the house.The women came outside.Jo thus became the Jo of the women.When the women go outside (every time),the women sing Jo,Jo, behold Jo! When the women go out to wash the utensils,the women sing Jo,Jo, behold Jo!When the women go to the market,the women sing Jo,Jo, behold Jo!When the women go out

Ntrolen,the'male lizard,' Nko barajan,the 'big gourd of the male monkeys,'Konon borajugu,the'nasty gourd of the birds, nasty stomachs,'Samace kun,the'head of the male elephant,'Ceblence,the'red man man,'Jarace kun,the'head of the lion,'and his shelter Jarabugu ba,the'big hut of the lion'(or sanctuary),Cekoro kun,the'head of ancient man or the Ancestor'of the social group—all issue of the broken first Jo,the Jo of the women."

to gather the karite nuts,the women sing

According to this etiological accountdo initially belonged to the women who came

Jo,Jo, behold Jo!When the women go out

across his original material representation

to look for firewood,the women sing Jo,Jo,

in the bush.This origin of the Jo cult puts

behold Jo! After alldo is on the end of their

forward the precedence of the feminine Jo,

belts;they walk around with it.The

which is the basis oflo's power.This narra-

women went out one day to wash the

tive is set forth during the seven-yearly teaching period of Jo values to the young

utensils,and Jo fell into the well.The women(who were at the well) called to

generation,whose members obviously pose

the women(who were in the house), 'Women,come out! 'Durk has fallen in the well.' All the women came out and

no objection. It is presented as historical truth,giving to Jo its ideological and material foundation.The different forces to which

each one gave a belt, but they could not get their Jo out of the well. The women called the men:Men,

it has given birth are linked to the classes constituting the Jo society;they are each the object of a specific sacred cult.This

come outsider All the men came outside.

sacrality means that cannot be classified in

The men said to the women:'Women,go all of you into the house.'All the women

a hierarchical structure.




The initiatic classes of Jo The Jo society includes various classes,and they are briefly described as follows:

to the sama cult, and their function consists of protecting the purity of the original blood of the lineages practicinglo,as well

The Jotigiw — These are the"owners of Jo" or highest officials of the cult.This status generally reverts to the most senior

as the spiritual force running through it. "The Sama spares not even the Jotigi, much less another person."5 This is what the Jo

in the lineage that keeps the Jo property. The Jotigi(sing.) must be the"keeper of the truth"(cinyen tigi), the model of the

Samada tigiw can go in the application of the ideology of lineage purity their class

thing in the state of physical and mental maturity. He has a role as mediator between the Creator and other persons. Guarantor of the putting into practice of ideas of life (Jo), as handed down by the fathers,the ancestors and God,the Jotigi is thefasu sonna,"the donor to the spirits of the dead." Two objects,a white vestment and a bovine's tail—referring to the quasidivine status of the Jotigi—convey his pri-

adepts say to illustrate just how far the

defends.To put it another way,they "select" the children of"pure blood"(having a father and mother in the line of proprietors of Jo) for initiation into the Soma cult, made material in a wood mask representing the head of a male elephant, whose body of clay-based straw mats resembles the crackled skin of this pachyderm.This Sama initiatic structure is constructed on the occasion of the septennial initiations and then after-

macy over the other beings.The Jotigi is

wards taken apart,"dismembered"say the

the social proprietor oflo,and as such confides the execution of the cult's ideas to

initiates, because one sacrifices to it an animal whose dismemberment corresponds to the building's dismantling.

the Jo shan. The Jo shanw — These are the "cultivators of the ideas air)." Initiatic education consists of killing off the seed of bad things in a child—to socialize it. It is the Jo shanw who initiate the young boys into Jo, every seven years.They are the creators of religious men,in the sense that they administer"symbolical death," and then cultivate and maintain Jo ideas, inculcating them in the minds of the young during a period of six to seven months.The cohesion of the initiation society,and of the whole community in general,depends upon the proper education of the cult's men by the shanw.Succession to the status of Joshan is done on a rotation basis amongst the families of the Jo group,and the Joshan is chosen according to a mode of"claiming" or of divine revelation.4 The

Thejaraw — These are the heads of initiation into the cult of Jaralion."They symbolize the hondara,the principle which enhances the religious activity that man accomplishes in an emphatic way. It is the principle that organizes life, renders it agreeable,diya, good,viable,just like this animal dominates the bush and brings all the other animals to order when he roars. Man created it to educate the people,to bring pleasure to life—a pleasure based on the domination of one class by another through means of the initiation.The emblematic object of thejaraw class is a friction drum,with four feet and two skins, and having ears on the one side and a tail at the other.This instrument,also named jara, is only allowed to be seen by the initiates. The Jojeliw 6 These are the historians

(shan banfula) whose red color evokes all its holiness,and a spear(shan tama),

of Jo.Their corresponding animal is the hare, known for its intelligence and memory. Their main function is to evoke and teach

which stands for intelligence,owing to its

the historical and mythical past of the soci-

power of penetration. The Jo samaw— They symbolize the elephant,the corresponding animal of this class.They are the masters of the initiation

ety,this by way of initiatic stories and narratives. Additionally,they carry out sacrifices addressed to the forces of Jo.They must be veracious men to be in keeping with the

attributes of Joshan are a sacred bonnet

1 150



Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni region

Wood,fabric, string, beads. H.74 cm.



society's history and with Jo concepts of truth and purity.Thus,they officiate during certain annual initiation ceremonies, not under purview of the shan,as for example, the Jam and Suu rites. Another important function of the Jojeliw is to look after the Jo mooni statuettes,"representation of the

whom there remains only holed bones. It reflects the spiritual existence of the dead in the minds of the living. The Kenyenw — "those who make sure thelo is well done."They are made up from the youngest class oflo initiates,that is to say,the youths.Their corresponding animal is the monkey,(warablen,literally "red wild beast"), particularly the nkoo, name of the

soul of the Jo adept." The Noonfriw — They are allied to the panther.Their common ideal is the ardent

dominant male.Their name connotes good

will present in man's heart of hearts.This

observation,the proper apprenticeship oflo

is conveyed in the red and/or black flecks of their initiation vestment,inspired by the panther's coat. From this indispensable

knowledge,and its correct and just application. It further connotes the physical agility and balance of the youths who comprise

will to face up to the "red things"

this class.To this is added the beauty of the

(koblen)—the obstacles and difficulties of life—Noonfri have the motto:"Red man of

woman as"jewel of the world,"and the ideal of the apparition of nko,"I say,"the

man".7 As the only masked personage of

human voice inspired by the divine voice.

Jo,the Noonfri wears a hood and symbolizes the hyena Namankoro,connoting the

The characteristic object of this class is the

will to put to death and the trait of gluttony. Its attributes are a garment made from an ensemble of three pieces (tunic,

fice called nkoo son,"offering to nkoo," destined to pay homage to this symbol of artic-

pants,and a coiffure called Namakorokun) dyed in a red ocher or in black-and-white,a bag and a whip.There exist three types of Noonfri:the Noonfri symbolizing the "red termitary"(Noonfri too blen),the Noonfri symbolizing the "cloudy sky"or the initiatic veil (Noonfri bribari), and the Noonfri symbolizing the "virility of man"(Noonfri

nkoo,a fetish. Each year it receives a sacri-

ulate language and human consciousness.9 Every seven years a rite called Jo nkojigi, "descent of the nko," is destined to renew the revelation of the divine word to man. The Kenyenw also are responsible for the manko set of instruments. The blow— This appellation applies to

dkala). The Suu("dead") —The Suu class is constituted from members of the oldest

a group of young boys and girls not yet circumcised or excised.They constitute the social reserves,and are members of the contingent that will participate in the following septennial Jo initiation.Their corresponding

group of the seven-yearly contingent.' Their correspondent is the Ancestor of the

animal is the lizard (basa),symbol of humanity's animal ancestor and symbolical-

group, which explains that this class's ideal is subsumed under the relationship of man to death.This rapport is marked by a double mystery:that of death,and that

ly connected with sexuality.The fetish object of the blaw is the ntrolen,to which is sacrificed a male lizard—the animal ally of this class.

of life after death. Put another way,it is founded on the veneration of ancestors and elevation towards spirituality.This class,devoted to death,is symbolized by an initiatic object called suden (dead child), an instrument made from a millet stalk with its pulp hollowed-out. Comparable to a reed pipe or mirliton,this kept-secret object is a sort of"double"for the Ancestor emptied of his material essence,and of

Sculptures and other Jo objects The Jo society possesses two types of statuettes,distinguishable according to their size and ritual use: • the Jo mooni statuettes,(representations of)the "soul of the person of Jo." Carved from gwele wood,these statuettes are big and heavy.They

1 152



Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or Diode: region Wood, metal. H.43 cm. CAT.136

Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or Dioila region Wood, metal. H.49.5 cm.



depict a woman seated on a chair, with a child standing or seated on his

Annual Jo rituals


The ensemble of rites of the Bamana practi-

Female figure:Jonyeleni

haunches, held by the mother's left arm while she supports her right

tioners of Jo is marked out by annual rites and other initiatic processes having the

Bougouni or Diode: region Wood, metal, beads. H.34 cm.

breast with her right hand.The mother

same periodicity and which constitute the preparatory phases of the great septennial


ceremonies. The rite Ntrolen son,"offering to

Bougouni or Dioila region Wood. H.45 cm.

and child have bodies sculpted in regular, rounded surfaces, polished and gleaming from the oil with which the statuettes are yearly anointed during thejarason ritual.The body's regular

ntrolen," is performed by still-uncircumcised boys to worship the lizard,the ancestor of

and supple appearance is due to very

humanity and symbol of sexual reproduc-

intense cleansing with a millet-tuft sponge.

tion.This sacred rite is prohibited to the old;

• the Jonyeleni figurines, representations of woman in the time of the first origi-

it opens the ritual season which sees the Bamana practitioners oflo accomplish a series of initiatory or other rites. The ritefa

nation oflo.These statuettes are the materialization of the soul of the female entity at the origin of the initia-

suu son,"offering to dead fathers," is dedicated to the Ancestor Spirits. Following next

tion practices which organize the soci-

"offering to nko"(nko son)of the Kenyenw

ety and maintain social order. According to Kate Ezra (1986),quoted

class, is destined to venerate the advent of the divine Word and articulate speech

by N. Meyere (86:11-12),they are"exag-

among humans.The rite "offering to

gerated in their form (...) always shin-

Noonfri"(Noonfri son)of the Noonfriw class,

are offerings to other ritual objects: the rite

ing with oil and composed of flat sur-

is consecrated to nutritional self-sufficiency

faces,cubes,cones and cylinders which join up sharp angles.They are sculpted

and social regulation. Another rite is Jara son,"offering to the lion,"from the Jarada

with their clothing, pearls, metal jewels, and scarifications on the body.They

tigiw class,and renders homage to the principle of the goodness of life,to harmony and social cohesion. During the course of

refer to the young girl in her ideal state, at her highest degree of physical attraction."° Unlike the Jomooni, utilized in the annualjarason ritual,the Jo

this last rite,the Jo mooni statuettes are taken out, washed,anointed with oil's and adorned with multicolored pearls.'6

nyeleni are used during the septennial initiations, where they are carried from village to village by the Jodenw.They

Septennial Jo rituals

are part of the exposition of Jo values,

The seven-yearly/0 rites are the culmina-

and serve to "increase the attraction

tion of a series of rituals that are the tem-

and noble bearing,"(one says, ka Jo nyannyan bonyan),to underscore their social function).

poral markers of the septennial calendar. At

The other most noteworthy of/0

the same time,these rites are the mode of constituting the grade-promotions of the initiates. Without them,the elderly—who

objects are the shrines where the ritual objects and musical instruments are conserved. Among these instruments are:the

are responsible for keeping track of this time interval—risk going astray in evaluat-

mango(manko)," used during annual rites,

The Jo initiations include both boys and girls, i.e. the ensemble of the social base, but the girls' initiation time is scaled-down

and especially the instruments known as kenyen,'Jonburo and sotigi,'4 which participate only at the septennial ceremonies, and provide Jo with all its distinctiveness.

ing its duration.'7

compared to the boys'. After the apprenticeship phase of Jo knowledge (Jo kalan)consisting of learning the songs,


Female figure:Jonyeleni



choreographed dances and the making of Jo finery,there come the following rites: the "eve oflo"(Josinyena) marking the start of application ofJo prescriptions;the rite "entry into the sama"(sama doo),the initiation to the sama (elephant) cult;the rite "Jo killing"(Jofaa);the retreat to the bush and the teaching of the natural sciences oflo during a five-day period; the

This is the Gwan''designating the smelting furnace with which the blacksmith, master of fire,fabricated iron at the end of a whole series of operations:searching for and extraction of the mineral, making the coke to serve as fuel,transport of the mineral ore and coke to the smelting furnace,smelting the mineral in the furnace for up to 48

rite "descent of the baboons of Jo"(Jo

hours,and extraction of the red iron from the furnace's central cavity. Most of these

gonjigi) or"descent of the speech of Jo"(Jo

operations are accompanied by gestural or

nkojigi),signaling the neophytes' return to

sacrificial rites, by which the blacksmith

the village while imitating the monkey

appeals for the efficacy of his work,the

and the acquisition of articulate speech;

quality of the iron undergoing transforma-

the phase of the "Jo promenade"or the

tion,and their own protection.This also

exhibition of Jo values (Jo yaala) when the

served to affirm his own identity.The opera-

Jodenw go from village to village.They pay

tion of trimming the metal was a collective

visits to their sisters and to the tombs of Jo

activity called nege bugo,"iron striking.'9 This is a rite proper to the blacksmiths,and

priests and ancient Jodenw.They put on musical shows with their instruments (drums, horns,and horses) and carry the

is enhanced by the"music of striking iron," negebugofoil, which is also exclusively

Jonyeleni statuettes;the rite of the "gift of

theirs. During the course of this rite, certain

the fellow-being of the substratum of the initiated"(basangabwo),consecrated to

of the blacksmiths directly grab hold of the red iron with bare hands,as a way of

"redeeming," at the foundation of a new

demonstrating their occult knowledge. And

psychic and psychological basis after their

it is here that resides the secret,the cult of fire,of that which is "hot,"(gwan in

pre-initiation state has been seriously shaken by the initiation itself; the rite "washing the dirt"(kanyenkwo) is the final

Bamanan).This quasi-unreal mastery of the

phase of initiation into Jo,and is intended

(dusu) of the blacksmith's working with fire

hot element is the nerve point,the "heart"

to rid the Jodenw and the sacrality of Jo of

and the raw material. Dusu also designates

all impurities.The Jodenw are anointed

the hollow cavity of the smelting furnace

with oil having the same properties as

where transformation of the iron ore takes

that serving to anoint the Jo mooni stat-

place,something which is thought of as

uettes;the Jodenw are then released and returned to the parental home. From this

both difficult and magical.

moment on they are no longer under the

paternity are the materialization of the dif-

responsibility of the Jo shan,and revert to

ficulty connected to the act of creation. They bear witness to the ardent will of man

the purview of their respective families. These fresh initiates continue to progress thanks to promotions within Jo at succeeding septennial ceremonies,and

The Gwan statuettes of maternity or

to create,to the presence of the blacksmith, to the man at the center of this activity, embodying the physical and intellectual

accede to the status of"men olio"(locew).

efforts of the creator.They are therefore justly called Gwantigi(proprietor, master or chief of Gwan),Gwanfolo (first Gwan)and


Gwanjara ba (great lion of Gwan),which are also male first-names,and Gwan dusu (heart of Gwan),a female first-name,incarnating the ardent will,the supernatural force,the divine and human spirits of the

The Numu lo,"Jo of the blacksmith," is the cult of the technique of fire,of iron and of wood,specific to the smiths whom the Bamana sometimes integrate into theirJo.

1 156



Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or Diode' region Wood. H. 34 cm.

cm.140 Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or Dioila region Wood. H. 45.5 cm.






creation of fire.The statuettes are representations of the human spirit of creation—in fact,creation in general—and it is to these that men and women will commit an offering in hope of successful


1. 2.


Foundation of a Jo including the Gwan The Bamana practitioners of other types of Jo who wish to introduce the Gwan cult into their Jo must offer to the blacksmith who sculpts the female statuette gwandusu,or one of its male representations cited above,seven red horses,seven red bovines,seven red goats,seven red sheep,



seven red dogs,seven red roosters and seven red cola nuts—thus seven lots of seven red elements each.lo is not a cult of the poor. It takes wealth to establish the Jo with the Gwan,and from here also follows the necessarily communitarian character of this type of cult.

5. 6. 7. 8.


io. CAT.141


Female figure:Jonyeleni Stou-Saro region, probably datingfrom 1920-1930. Wood. H.42 cm.

CAT.142 12.

Female figure:Jonyeleni Se'gou-Saro region, probably datingfrom 1920-1930. Wood, metal, glass beads. H. 52 cm.

13. CAT.143

Female figure:Jonyeleni Segou-Saro region Wood, metal. H. 57 cm.


See note 15. Other concepts appear in the application of Jo ideas.They are: • the "light of knowledge," mana mana. The essential core of the Bamanan idea of knowledge as tool permitting the enlightenment of the individual and to guide the society, is summarized in the term mono mono,"luminousluminous," which connotes the spiritual radiance that comes from this knowledge. • cleme-deme, permanent mutual aid as means of adapting the rhythm of the movement of the universe to its different constituents. • kenyen,"the exact way of doing,"and the difficulty of correctly transmitting the way of practicing and perpetuating the cult tradition. This text is the summary of the transcribed and translated narrative in its sung form in the thesis of S. Male, pp.93-101. Upon the death of Jo shan, the person who is likely to replace him has all his movements closely watched. One lies in wait,takes him by surprise,and puts the bonnet of shot?(shan banfula) on his head, saying: shan y'i kini, Jo y'i keni,"the shan claims you,the Jo claims you." Thus claimed by the spirit of the preceding jo shan (deceased)and the forces of theft,cult,the chosen person is obliged to accept this divine request. His enthronement then follows. Soma tejotigi to sanko moo were. Unlike the ordinary griot,the griots of./o belong to no caste. In Beledugu,this motto,ceblence,is the name for this personage. A promotion pool oflo is composed of three age-groups,each constituted by time of circumcision. Editor's note: there is, of course, a play on words and metaphysical speculation about the name of the animal, of the object, and of the language. This idea of the woman as the world adornment is central to Kenyenw. The mango is a sort of gong,a percussion instrument made from a half-closed metal plate,ending with a handle curved to the convex side and by which the player holds the instrument,which he strikes with a hard baton,for want of a warthog tusk. The kenyenw are the large scrapers made from wood sculpted in the form of a canoe,which one may inappropriately call a drum. Their edges are notched. Their number varies from seven to twelve, and they are played by scraping with a stick. Thejonburu is a sort of long transverse monoxyle horn,in wood. "Cavalier-thaumaturge." These are horses in sculpted wood,with their harnasses made from broad-bean seedsCred, white, or flecked black. Thejodenw"ride"them, making magical movements, neighing and defecating.

CAT 144

Female figure:Jonyeleni Sigou-Saro region Wood, metal, glass beads. H. 53.3 cm.


15. This oil is extracted from the karite nut.These must be from the first crop of the year, beaten by the first rains of the year, and gathered by elder post-menopausal women. These same women are responsible for all of the oil-making operations,denoting the spirit of purity and primacy of Jo. 16. This rite generally takes place in May,when the first rains start to fall. 17. Counting the years ofJo is also made with the aid of stones which thejotigi place in a hole each year. 18. Today one still finds remains of such smelting furnaces throughout the Sahelian belt, in south Mali and as far as ate d'Ivoire and Guinea. According to Tereba Togola, archeologist and National Director of Arts and Culture, with the exception of the Sahara, where desertification predated the invention of the smelting furnace, this industry existed all over. The oldest traces go back to z000 B.C., while the modern furnaces were abandoned in the 19505. Such ruins exist throughout Bamanan territory, most notably at Bougouni, Didila, Kolokani,Segou,Koulikoro and Koutiala (in part) and are called Gwan kolo, "ancient Gwan";all these territories fell under./o influence. 19. The "striking of iron"(negebugo) is still practiced in Bela° and other villages of Baninko, Cercle of Didila.


Female figure:Jonyeleni Mande region Wood. H. 56 cm. CAT.146

Female figure:Jirimooni Mande region Wood,cowrie shells, seeds. H.81 cm.






Female figure:Jonyeleni

Female figure:Jonyeleni

Female figure:Jonyeleni

Baninko region Wood. H. 31 cm.

Baninko region Wood. H. 24 cm.

Baninko region Wood. H. 51 cm.



Crest mask Sikasso region Wood, animal hair, cloth, string, iron. H.65 cm. Ci-wara integrated into a Jo crest.


Crest mask:Sogonikun Baninko region Wood. H. 17.5 cm. Jo crest alluding to Sogonikun farming association.

CAT. 151

Crest mask: Konikun Bougouni or Dioila region Wood. H. 17.8 cm. Jo crest with Sogonikun figures.



%:1* t.0 ,.


CAT. 157


Jo or Kcima trumpet Koulikoro region Metal. L.66 cm.

Jo horn Senufo region Iron, leather, fibers. L. 86 cm. LEFT PAGE:

0%-r.153 Jo or Komb trumpet Koulikoro region Wood. H.45 cm. The major power associations (Jo, Kemb, Kane, Nama) have flutes or trumpets (buruw) with animal or anthropomorphic figures. These instruments are power objects, reputedly able to kill from a distance. CAT.154

Jo or Kama trumpet Sikasso region Wood, metal. L. 82 cm. 0%1-.156


Jo or KOmo trumpet Koulikoro region Metal. L. 58 cm.

Jo or!Como trumpet Sikasso region Wood, metal, leather. L. 84 cm.







Objects and people don't meet in the space between them.Instead they try to consume each other. People wrap their

gious associations, or secret societies. After over loo years of research,we still know

around objects,creating as they do what the artworks become for them. But the

relatively little about them. How they developed in time and space, how their objects

objects are not passive.They project what they are made of, invading the imagina-

have changed,and how their internal structure and leadership workedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;all this and more is poorly understood.

into you.And when their essence is the stuff of natural but extraordinary power, this projection is a significant event. Look at the enormous,drawn-out visage of a Kano helmet headdress. From the top it is the impossible head of an impossible creature. From the side the two flat planes of the face and the mouth seem barely connected,with features both so understated and so overstated that the creature is even more impossible than its iconography suggests(see cat.166,167, 168,169 and 170). Or look at the dense,concentrated form of a Nama sculpture,so

Koulikoro region Wood,antelope horn, pig hairs, feathers. L. 74 cm.

Nevertheless,we have enough information to know these power associations have long played important roles in people's lives. They are prominent parts of social structure in such Mande groups as Bamana, Maninka,and Wasuluka, being enmeshed in complex networks of political and economic power and authority.They interact with town chiefs (and leaders of larger areas when the big states and empires held sway) and councils of elders,often viewed as the pinnacles of a town's authority structure. They also interact(and sometimes compete) with Islam and its leaders,the

small it is carried in the hands, but still

marabouts, who use personal charisma and effectiveness in the spiritual realm,as well

visually bristling with the power that it actually possesses. A rich history of ideas

as the established authority of their religion,to garner political power.

and activities unites these sculptures,and a whole range of less aesthetically articulated objects,in the domain of the Mande

low have relationships with many components of a complex social landscape,such

power associations. Institutions that wield power by concentrating it into material objects and launching it, under control, out into the

Komb helmet mask: Warakun

initiation associations, brotherhoods, reli-

senses,consciousness,and experiences

tions of people. Often how they look,their sensate presence, propels their essence


jow).The literature often describes them as

world,are common throughout the continent of Africa. But Bamana and virtually all other Mande societies wield a surprisingly large number of such institutions, which bear the generic namejo (plural

as hunters'groups(Donso Tonw), highly organized associations of rugged and often intimidating individuals from a community or a region (Cashion 1984; Cisse1964; Levtzion 1973:56-58; McNaughton 198213). They,too,can be a serious force in local affairs,and may have served as crack troops during empire and state building. Another institution,called Ton,organizes a community's youth into formal associations with




FIG. 38

Hunter's association orchestra, Nyizensso, 1994.

considerable social and economic weight.

(Levtzion 1973). Interpretations of oral tradi-

These groups are in many ways dependent upon elders and chiefs, but also quite

tions,especially the Sunjata Epic,suggest that the founders of the Mali Empire estab-

capable of operating independently and even in defiance of established political authority (Arnoldi 1995; Brink 1980;

lished prohibitions against the nyamakalaw holding overt positions of political power (Charry 2000:41-42,48-54). In actual fact,

Monteil 1924:290-397;Willis 1971:455-459). Supercharged special professionals

cal power,and are often quite accomplished

however,they possess a great deal of politi-

(called nyamakalaw)comprise another powerful block.The leather workers, bards,

at using it.

and blacksmiths monopolize the production of extremely important material and cultural products and also possess tremendous levels of a powerful energy(nyama) that operates beneath the visible surface

can be woman's cooperative associations, the power blocks created by merchants,the

of the world to give it structure and make it work (McNaughton 1988; Conrad and Frank 1995).The stature of these groups shifts and is often contested. It is possible that the blacksmiths,for example, held supreme political authority in much of the western savannah during the period between the Ghana and Mali empires

Many other factors enter this mix.There

activities offree-lance sorcerers and soothsayers,institutions affiliated by post-colonial government,and much more. Amid these individuals and groups vying for power are the power associations (jaw),institutions that depend upon the spiritual expertise of master-sorcerers. Like marabouts,jow leaders depend upon charisma and effective manipulation of the forces of nature to garner members and influence. But there is much variation.Some leaders


are considered reasonably competent with

(amulets) and basiw(power objects) are

the knowledge and skills required to

made.These objects harness nyama,to work in the world on behalf of the daliluw

deploy nyama.Others acquire reputations for being very well versed.Some even

users. Very large basiw are called boliw,

become famous,and their exploits enter

which are often the swollen-looking,amor-

the annals of oral tradition.These differences generate variation in membership size and association stature and power

phously-shaped,surface-encrusted creations that are owned by the power associations(McNaughton 1979,1982a,

from place to place.

1988,1995). Particularly unpleasant compo-

In such a social structure, networks of

nents of all this are korotew,daliluw poisons

complex,fluid alliances are in perpetual development,and there is much room for variation. In any given community,institu-

designed to harm or kill people.They range from food poison to nearly invisible bits of disquieting matter flicked at someone from

tion members interact with each other

under a fingernail or launched on the wings

according to their own particular knowledge,skills, experiences,and motivations. It is important to note that every person will be different,the institutions they

of an insect(McNaughtoni982a,1982b). Although people adjust their terminology according to situations and their

engage will have an established character

of as things that do good.Boliw can also

based on local history, and that character

work positively,as protection. But many

will change as individuals and situations transform them.Although people with vested interests may say otherwise,there

consider them prone to the aggressive radiation of nyama that harms. In the world of

predilections,in general basiw are conceived

sorcery, boliw are the big guns,and they

is no real norm for how all these institu-

aptly fit a Mande axiom that one fights fire

tions(and individuals) inter-relate,and no way to predict the alliances they will establish among themselves.The impor-

with fire,so your fire should be as dangerous as your adversary's.The masks or head-

tant point for us is that the power associations in this network possess tremendous

also considered basiw or boliw. A performing Kama headdress,for example, becomes

potential to be a very strong force in the social,spiritual,economic,and political life of the community.

a kind of boll, with all its attendant power and fearsomeness(Kone 2001).

dresses these power associations use are

The foundation upon which these

Nyama is often described by Mande as dreadful,dangerous,and endlessly negative.

power associations rest is what most scholars call sorcery,or the occult,or the

There is certainly much to fear in it. But very often,when people are specifically questioned,

supernatural,though it is actually very

as Kassim Kone has done on innumerable occa-

complex and combines science and ritual. Mande call it nyama,which can be characterized as the energy of action (Bird, Koita

sions,they have to admit nyama is responsible for some ofthe more wonderful things in their lives(Kone1997).Its potency is awesome and

and Soumaouro1974:vii-ix),or the energy

only managed through expertise.Thus,the

that animates the universe(McNaughton 1988). Mande consider it extremely potent. It is a cornerstone of the way the natural world works,and through competent

character of its deployment will always depend upon the character of the persons deploying it. Much of what thejow do is defense against nyama's malevolent use,but since malevolent

manipulation the most important things that happen in society and history can be shaped and changed. Briefly stated,the

and benevolent can be so complex and relative (McNaughton 1995), people cannot always be sure exactly how it is being used.This,of course

world is known through jiridon,"the science of the trees." With it experts can make daliluw,recipes by which sebenw

increases its aura as something fearsome.The fact is, plenty of power association leaders have their fair share of korotew poisons.



The Sunjata epic provides a most instructive demonstration of how fundamentally important this collection of pro-

cept of power objects that ultimately resulted in the creation of all the power associations. He also introduced KomO for men and

cedures,objects,and hoped-for results are. This epic chronicles the defeat of the famous blacksmith-sorcerer king

Nya Gwan for women,thus establishing a prominent role for blacksmiths in the socialspiritual affairs of Mande people. When

Sumanguru Kante by the equally famous Sunjata Keita,to end the rule of the black-

become his tomb,and it was suspended in

smiths and begin the era of the Mali Empire (Austin z000; Bulman 1996; Johnson 1986; Niane 1965). In every version

the branches of a tree protected by bees,in a secret location near a lake on the MaliGuinea border.That canoe is visited regular-

I have heard the entire story turns on the manipulation of nyama. Early in the epic, it

ly by the ancient smith's descendents, who make sacrifices to it. People say it has now become an enormous basi itself (McNaughton 1979,forthcoming;Tera 1977).

is harnessed by Sunjata to end his days as a cripple and launch him as a young man of substance and grand potential.Then it becomes the means by which Sunjata finally defeats Sumanguru.Intrigue,diplomacy,allegiance formation, military preparations, and actual battles all play important roles. But expertly deployed nyama by several key players causes the most impor-

Nfajigi died, his canoe is said to have

Traditions about later blacksmiths,such as Sumanguru Kante and Fakoli Dumbia, and the knowledge people have offamous smiths who lived in the last century,such as Satigi Sumaoro and Seydou Camara,constantly remind Mande of the power these potent characters possess. It also reinforces

tant things to happen.To reinforce the importance of this power, many scholars feel the Sunjata epic is a virtual template for the establishment of modern Mande

that aura linking smiths to powerjow in popular imagination. Of the many major

identity (Charry 2000:41) People and institutions who control

wield extraordinary amounts of nyama. In general,the community branches of

this power and use it with great expertise, are bound to garner spiritual, economic, social and political power. And so it is with

these associations incorporate an

the leaders of the power associations. Interestingly enough, many Mande connect these institutions with blacksmiths,

objects,and an attitude that what they do is important and serious.They can offer

even though today only the Kama seems to be actually owned and operated by them, perhaps along with Nya Gwan,a female counterpart that is said by many to be headed by potters, who are femalemembers of the smiths'clans. People say or feel that thejow were invented by smiths,or are controlled by smiths,or are

players in the Sunjata epic,an impressive percentage of them are blacksmiths who

infrastructure of secrecy,complex concepts of nature and power, ritual activities, ritual

their initiates and members of their communities the hope of a reasonable degree of security against illness and misfortune,the malevolent actions of spirit beings (jinnw), and the anti-social activities of their fellow citizens.They also may offer soothsaying resources for exploring the causes of events and predicting the likelihood offuture occurrences.They offer as well a means for influencing the future,for encouraging

somehow a part of the domain of smiths. An oral tradition says the very first smith, Domajiri, who was created specially by spiritual powers and separately from

forms of good fortune such as a happy marriage, healthy children, or a successful business venture.Some do all of these things.

ordinary people,invented the Ntomojo by whittling a piece of wood.Another tradition says Domajiri's great-grandson was named Nfajigi, and he introduced the con-

Others specialize in some of them. Identifying the institutions that compose these powerjow is not straightforward. Much literature excludes



private (Amoldi 1995:192; Kone 2001). Some authors distinguish between cults and initiation or power associations (Moraes Farias 1989:156). Kone,however, sees this as a Western construct(Kone 2001).The most misleading problem in the literature is the neglect of the womens' associations,They are virtually invisible,as Imperato (1983:19) aptly notes. Henry (1910:95-96,114) observed one called Mousso Ka Dyiri used by southeastern Bamana people. Paques(1954:86) identifies three, Niagua,Kulukuto,and Dyide. Kone (2001) notes that liden (Dyide)includes both men and women and features spirit possession. I have written briefly (1979,1988) about Nya Gwan.Only Imperato (1981) has written substantively on them,exploring their roles in healing and health care. Kassim Kone identifies three musojow (womens'power associations).lank째 is a women's counterpart to Ntomo,is extremely secretive,and prepares its members for adulthood and marriage. Members use no sculpture, but employ music and dance. Male drummers and balafon players who work for them must have cloth over their eyes as they perform,so they will not observe the secret proceedings.The same is true of males who sacrifice chickens and goats for them (among Mande,women do not sacrifice animals).The association has a sacred tree,and also the power to deploy potent curses(Kone 2001).


Nya orchestra, Wattorosso, 1983.

Nya Gwan is said by some Mande to be just a group of dangerous women sorcerers, Ntomo and Kore,apparently because they

but others consider it the women's counter-

do not sacrifice to a boll(Arnoldi1995:192;

part to Kam& with great power for fighting anti-social sorcery(Kone 2001; McNaughton

McNaughton 1979:5). Ntomo prepares boys for manhood,circumcision, marriage,and membership in Komb(Imperato 1983;Zahan 1960). Kore prepares senior men for death and continued life with the spiritual principles that govern the world,through rich knowledge,complex and often strongly sarcastic performances,and contemplation (ibid).Though they are clearly different in orientation, Kone notes that Ntomo does have a boll, while Arnoldi states that Ntomo, Kore and Jo members do make sacrifices in

1979:1988). Kone (2001) notes that some women are born Nya Gwan,and all must be careful not to be co-opted by the dark side of its power and become anti-social sorcerers themselves. Kone adds that many Mande consider Nyakuruni(or Nyakuuni)to be the most secretive and frightening of all thejow, male or female. Its members are very old women,and young widows whose power (tera,a varient of nyama) has killed their



husbands.While leaders in many of the

Kongoba, Nan-Woloko,and Kouantara. He

power associations are aggressive,adven-

lists three out of several that he said pos-

turesome,fame-hungry, rugged individu-

sessed neither shrine nor sacred grove—

als, who often challenge one another with

Douga,Ci-wara,Da.And he lists several that

sorcery, no one in their right mind would

had either a shrine or a sacred grove—

dream of challenging a Nyakuruni mem-

Kama,Nama,Kan& Nia, Wara (Djara), Djo,

ber.These women are said to parade naked

Magna (Tjaro Fign). He says all of these were

around pestles,singing songs and hitting

organized around a boll and a wilderness

the pestles.Their nudity unleashes

spirit, whereas N'tomo and Kore were just

immense levels of dangerous nyama.

organized around a spirit. Monteil

People leave gifts of millet in calabashes

(1924:234-87) lists KOmb,Noma,Kore and

for them,and many seek their blessings.

NOM].Ta uxier (1927:272-37) lists many

But no one is ever really sure if a

more—Korna,Noma,Kore, Kano,Dyo(Dio,

Nyakuruni branch is fighting anti-social

Gyo), Nia (Gnia, Gna), Warn (Diara), and

sorcery,or practicing it(Kone 2001).

Douga.Paques(1954:84-87) lists Komb,

Which institutions arejow? In a hun-

Kwore, Noma,Knon, Nago and the women's

dred years of publications,authors'lists

associations mentioned above. Dieterlen

are wonderfully divergent. I present the

and Cisse (1972:17-18) cite N'domo,

major ones here,in chronological order (using their spellings). Henry (1910:122-27,

Namakoroku,Kama,Nama,Konb, and Kore. Zahan (1960,1970)explores N'domo,!Como,

137-55) notes the women's association

Noma,Kano, Ci-wara,and Kore.

mentioned above,and four men's associa-

McNaughton (1979) provides an early exam-

tions controlled by town leaders—Safolo,

ination of the debate on these associations. FIG.4o Manyan boli, Namporompela, 1994.


Imperato (1983:19-22) discusses the same associations,and notes there are others with much more local distributions,such

that several of the associations constituted a linked hierarchy of progressive knowledge

as the Dyo and Gouan.In 1979, he indicates

and sequential initiation, in a larger structure that represented a Bamana way of

that a predominantly Maninka association called Konkoba was used by southern Bamana (Prochan and El Dabh 1979:26),

interpreting the world and acting sensibly in it(Zahan 196째,19630974).Some authors have taken issue with this structure

which Kone (2001)corroborates. Arnoldi (1995:24-25,192) mentions Ntomo,Kore,

(McNaughton 1979). Others(Imperato 1983),

Komi),Komi,and Noma,along with some valuable information on Manyan.Jespers

have been more sympathetic. A probable explanation is that the citizens of many communities with whom Zahan worked

(1996:9-40) ascribes to the Minianka

had come to consider Ntomo,Kama,Noma,

(Minyanka)the Noma,KOmo,Kano, Manyan,Tyiwara,and many others of less-

!Ono,Ci-wara, and Kore hierarchically inter-

er importance. Colleyn (1998:91-176),also

change,a few decades later in several towns

working with Minianka,discusses in detail Nyerejhe), Kore,Jo, Gwan,!Comb, Kon6,

around Segou,several powerjow had been combined into one called Konci, which traveled to each of the towns to carry out cere-

Noma,Ci-wara, Manyan and Nankon,while refering to others of more modest dimen-

monies in an area that had become substantially Islamized (Lewis 1973).

sions. Kone (2001) lists Ntomo,Komi,!Ono, Nama,Do, Gwan,lara, and Manyan for

We can never reconstruct the history of all the power associations,That is unfortu-

men;and Janko, Nyo Gwan and Nyakuruni (Nyakuuni)for women.All together,this is

nate, because it involved high levels of enterprise and expertise in the hands of a

an impressive list. I think the variation in these writings

great many people.This is the history of a

the Ntomo(Ndomo,Ceblinke, Koni,

reflects the flexibility and constantly evolving character of individual association branches,and the ever-changing ebb and flow in their distribution patterns. Perhaps the data of Dominique Zahan from the mid-twentieth century Segou region offers a noteworthy example. Extensive research led him to conclude

related.To show how much things can

dynamic interface between people and objects, many of which are spectacular artworks. Objects such as Komi)and Kona headdresses and boliw,or the basiw that are less well known to Westerners,are the magnets around which the electro-magnetic energies of nyama swirl,to be flung out into a citizenry long adept at putting the objects and power to use.







The /Como association and its exquisitely horrific headdress(Komokun) have long

ness and misfortune,the meddling of malevolent spirits,and the malicious

offered important social, spiritual and

actions of anti-social sorcerers.Their sooth-

political services to Mande and related peoples. Many consider it a major source of solidity and strength in community life. It has been reported as being involved in

saying resources can be pronounced,and so can their abilities to make existence better for people in matters of family, profession, health and social life.

every important affair of a man's life,from birth and circumcision to marriage and death (Ndiaye 1994:44). Many think it is the most powerful of all the men's power

Korn?)goals are accomplished in a variety of settings.They include initiations,

associations,and it is probably the most widespread. Much literature reports its decline, but some evidence suggests it is still strong and possibly growing. Kama is distributed across the western savannah in a constantly shifting pattern of community branches that are not always independent and by no means equal in power. In fact, branches manifest tremendous variation in their leadership structure and specific activities, making this overview a very generalized sketch. Like the other power associations, Kama is secret,full of esoteric and practical knowledge about people and the world, and endowed with a rich inventory of ritual activities by which the course of the world can be comprehended and transformed. Branches act as a kind of


Kcimo helmet mask: Warakun Wood,antelope horn. L. 51 cm. CAT.161

Komo helmet mask: Warakun Wood,animal fur, horns, porcupine quills, mirror. H.76 cm.

police force to help fight crime and they also play prominent judicial roles, helping to decide significant cases in a community. People swear their veracity on the KOmo, and this carries much weight, because many feel that to defile Komi)with deceit is to invite horrendous disaster (Kone 2001). Komo branches also offer initiates and communities protection against ill-

annual celebrations of renewal,and regularly scheduled meetings where sacrificial materials are applied to ritual objects. In addition,specific problems of members and other citizens are examined through divination and addressed with the articulation of nyama at regularly scheduled or as-needed meetings when the headdress and masquerade perform a kind of theater of power. Beyond these goals,Kama offers more tacit benefits. Membership crosses clan affiliations to create broad-based unification and solidarity that does not depend on kinship. Membership also includes people from a variety of professions,social statuses,and economic dispositions,all of which provide social, political,and economic resources for branch activities. As members share the experience of their association's regular meetings,they can acquire the valuable sense that they possess useful clout and influence. Meetings, private and restricted to members, most frequently take the form of performances. Kama employs dramatic and sometimes ominous or eerie drumming, with very largejembe or smaller friction drums(Charry 2000:7,207,213; Jespers 1996:46). Headdress wearers use kazoo-like



voice disguisers and are often accompanied by bards who translate the sounds they make into songs that are laden with association lore and oral traditions (Jespers 1996; McNaughton 1979:37; 1988:139). Flutes or horns may also be played at these performances (Joyeux 1924:206-7; McNaughton 1979:27).Yaya Diallo,a Minianka drummer,notes that musicians can use their abilities to produce sadness and crying,fatigue, excitement,and calm (1989:97-98,159-63). The rhythms can even effect healing.Thus, the music at a Komo performance is an important component of the effect produced (Nketia 1988). Wearing intensely dramatic headdresses and engulfed in enormous masquerade costumes (Jespers 1996:50; McNaughton

that it builds character, resiliency, and a sense of self-confidence. Many members feel their initiations did enhance their character. Others found it oppressive.The intensity of the activities undertaken by Kenna is dependent on the wisdom and judgment of its leaders. Often these leaders are able and decent people.There are instances, however, when the motivation of some is questionable. In this,the power associations closely resemble such American institutions as basic training in the military. The activities within Kama also have an important educational component.As leaders and members carry out association business,their knowledge and experiences become a discourse that percolates through the association's performances.The lyrics of

1979:31;Zahan 1974)that can be complete-

songs,the words in incantations,and the imagery in the ritual objects all become

ly covered with feathers of vultures or other predator birds and loaded with hid-

part of a dialectic that offers members the opportunity for considerable circumspec-

den amulets,talented association performers are capable of spectacular

tion. Members variously interpret the audio

feats.These include fantastic acrobatics (Montei11924:299),extraordinary shape-

and visual materials in their association performances.They discuss and contemplate these interpretations and use

changing created by contorting the costume and thrusting the headdress skyward on the end of a pole (Henry

them to explore their own beliefs about

1910148; Monteil 1924:298; Kone 2001),

me that self-knowledge is one of the most

spitting apparent fire, and creating water spouts(McNaughton 1988:142-3).The cos-

important things they gain from their asso-

tumes displace large volumes of space, and swish and rustle most audibly as the

Though differences abound, making generalizations difficult, many Mande

dancers maneuver.Sometimes these

would say the success of individual !Como branches depends upon three variables:the

dancers charge straight at spectators,stop

themselves and their social, spiritual, and physical worlds. KOmo members have told


on a dime right in front of their faces,and challenge them provocatively to prove they are members of the association. All of

knowledge and expertise of its leaders, alliances with wilderness spirits, and the

these elements coalesce into effective theatricality. Along with the music,such cathartic,shared experiences create tangible transformations in members,strength-

has at its disposal. Successful !Comb leaders possess impressive credentials. After many years of training,sometimes under the

ening their feelings of solidarity,capability, and significance. Sometimes procedures associated with initiation are very aggressive or even violent. Neophytes may be beaten or subjected to various physical and emotional hardships.The rationale behind this stress is

potency of the power objects each branch

tutelage of local experts,sometimes by traveling independently to learn from widespread masters,qualified individuals become virtuoso practitioners ofjiridon,the science of the trees.They have earned and learned innumerable daliluw,the recipes for amassing,activating,and directing the energy called nyama.They know how to put

1 176



Kama helmet mask: Warakun Wood,antelope horn. H.45 cm. helmet masks are normally kept out ofsight from non-initiates and women.These masks are among the most feared objects in the Bamana culture.




power to work for good fortune,and to protect people from the malevolent acts of other people or spirit beings.They have numerous daliluw for making basiw, power devices that are made in every imaginable shape and size,from every imaginable organic and inorganic material. Basiw combine ritual with scientific principles to harness the energy called nyama.They are generally said to do good, but in the Mande world of sorcery, players fight fire with fire. So Komotigiw (leaders of KOmo), possess ample armament in the form of korotew, poisonous daliluw that people use to hurt or kill each other.They also know how to assemble boliw, major devices composed of numerous daliluw and possessed of enormous power. Boliw are often considered dreadful because their power is overwhelming and conceptually located at the edge of the distinction between good and evil. Kone (2001) notes that many Mande even distinguish semantically between using sorcery to accomplish positive things (suya or subagaya)and using sorcery to activate boliw (bolison,"sacrificing to the boll"). Komb leaders are not always the headdress dancers,and some branches have several leaders. Another important figure is the Komosuruku,the headdress dancer's

Often Kennel leaders work in league with particular wilderness spirits (jinnw).These are creatures of tremendous power,said to live invisibly in the bush (often in their own towns), but capable of materializing to people at will, in all sorts of sizes and shapes. They can be spectacularly beautiful and seductive,or hideous and overwhelming. Frequently, people with the expertise to manipulate nyama seek alliances with wilderness spirits,serving them,sacrificing to them,and receiving from them special powers and abilities. Seydou Camara,the hunters' bard and Kemotigi, had such a relationship, which he said enhanced very much his musical abilities and his mastery of nyama.Spirits can be conceived of as dwelling simultaneously in our visible world and the less visible world of dibi(obscurity, darkness,ambiguity), where so much of the power behind our world's appearance and character resides.Thus,to have a spirit ally is to increase your influence in that very important realm and to enhance your success as a power association leader. The headdresses of!Como(Komokunw) are dramatic,explicitly tactile, and very powerful.They unite animal motifs and organic materials into a spectacular creature that includes bird, hyena,crocodile,

herald, who acts like a Mande bard or an Akan linguist,translating for the assem-

antelope,and more (Jespers 1995; McNaughton 1979).Their creations represent the consummation of large numbers of

bled members the disguised tonal utterances of the masquerader. Kone (2001)

daliluw.They are subsequently nourished with regular programs of sacrifice (sanni),

says that good Komosurukuw are very skilled masters of divination,and as they perform,they forecast important occur-

the residues of which grow across the surface of the headdresses, making them pro-

rences. Many of these men sing beautifully, and Kone notes that they can become much loved for their singing abilities. For example,sometimes women,who are

gressively more awesome to behold and more potent to engage.They become ripe with nyama. A Kama branch may have more than one headdress. Based on his research in the

compelled to remain behind locked doors when /Como is abroad,will arrange to have

19605 and 19705,lmperato(2001) notes that some may own lesser "offspring" masks

much work to do (such as spinning cotton

that have neither the power nor the stature of the principal, but can gain power over

thread),so they can sit all night by the door to their family compound,listening to the singing of the Komosuruku. This audio artistry contributes to the popularity of Kama branches(Kone 2001).

time as they grow ripe with sacrifices. Offspring and principal masks may look quite similar, but members know which has the most power. An offspring mask can be



Komi?) helmet mask: Warakun Wood, animal horns, pig hairs, fiber, fur. H. 50.8 cm.



given a new home,in the !Comb sanctuary of a different town,and this is part of how new branches are spawned. Kone (2001)

trate on reading celestial bodies to predict patterns of rain and help a community's agricultural efforts. Others concentrate on

notes that smiths can negotiate with

predicting the next year's community

/Como leaders (also blacksmiths)to establish a new branch.The words used to describe such negotiations are ka !Como

health. When a new branch is spawned from an older one,the interests, knowledge, and abilities of the new branch's leaders

mamine,mamine meaning to negotiate an

(and members)can cause it to specialize in very different things from its parent. Sometimes more than one Kama branch

engagement of marriage between two people. These offspring branches have many of the same obligations towards their parent branch that married people possess toward parents and in-laws. During important ceremonies of the parent branch,its offspring from surrounding areas will often be asked to participate. At least initially, a spawned branch will be weaker, though its leaders and members may cause it to become more powerful quite quickly. Kama headdresses are just one of

exists in a community; I knew of a town that had three. When this occurs,the branches compete for membership, resources,status,and power. Even where there is only one branch in a town, however, it competes with the other branches in its region.This can become quite serious. When a branch celebrates an important event, such as the funeral of a major /Como leader, members and leaders of neighboring branches are invited to participate,and often the headdresses of these other

many objects at a Kama leader's disposal (McNaughton 1979).The boll is itself

branches perform together. Kone notes that such communal meetings become competi-

tremendously impressive,for the way it looks and because it radiates so much energy.Three horns or flutes(buruw)often

tions of power.They are opportunities for powerful Komi)leaders to test korotew poi-

accompany it. Beautifully articulated of wood or iron,they can also become incrusted with the physical materials of sacrifice. KOme leaders also possess numerous smaller power devices(basiw)

sons on each other with the hopes of seriously damaging rivals, gaining stature,and augmenting their own energy of action (nyama) by harvesting the energy emerging from the demise of their victims.

constructed from horn,claws,animal

Such fights are considered to be confrontations in the invisible and obscure

teeth,animal skulls,snake skin, millet stalks,snail shells,calabashes, wood,cloth,

realm of dibi, but their effects will be quite obvious to members(Komodenw,"children

metal,and every imaginable organic substance the science of the trees and dalilu

of the Kama").When these confrontations occur, less powerful Kam()leaders wisely

recipes can produce. When !Come)leaders carry goatskin bags or attachĂŠ cases, you can be sure they are packed with these

disappear.They go home.But the powerful leaders present at a performance are smart, tough,very rugged individuals, who are pointedly aware of the dangerous world

objects. Koma branches can specialize in particular kinds of activities. In the earlyi970s, the blacksmith Magam Fane (1971)told me many branches to the south around Bougouni were specializing in sorcery, whereas branches closer to Bamako were specializing in divination. Kone (2001) notes that specialization can become very fine-tuned.Some!Como branches concen-

they have chosen to join.These men often relish a sorcerer's fight,and sometimes,if their korotew are having no effect on one another,they will resort to beating each other with the goatskin bags that contain their basiw(Kone1997,2001). When a /Come performance gets out of hand with dibi confrontations,the Kamosuruku (herald) will try to calm the situation. He may even offer



Komi, helmet mask: Warakun Wood,animal horns, pig hairs, fiber, pigment. H. 38 cm.

co.165 Kcimo helmet mask: Warakun Wood, animal horns, leather, fur, fiber, pig hairs. L. 68.5 cm.



sacrifices on the spot, in an effort to quiet the competitors(Kone 2001).

found Kama among the Bobo of eastern Mali and western Burkina Faso in the 1880s.

Kama has had a long and complicated history. We do not know exactly when or

To the west, Brooks says blacksmiths spread Kama extensively,wherever they settled as part of gold mining and trading

where it began. Many oral traditions authenticate Kama in the face of Islam by asserting it originated in Mecca at a time too ancient to calculate(McNaughton 1979:17-18; Moraes Farias 1989:152-70; Kone 2001).Some variants of this tradition assert that Nfajigi,one of Mande's earliest smiths, brought the Kama back after he traveled to Mecca as a form of self-exile for an accidental act of incest (Tera 1977, 1978). Another tradition says 17 smiths invented Kama in very ancient times, but names and details have been lost

operations inspired by the Mali Empire.To help them maintain their own culture among their children,to protect trade routes,fortify their technological monopoly, and to acquire and exert political influence, Mande smiths established the associations that became what we now know as Poro and Simo.Their work bore fruit in GuineaConakry,Sierra Leone, Liberia,and Ivory Coast(Brooks 1993:73-77). Thus,the entire western half of West Africa became the domain of Kama and its

(Dieterlen and Cisse 1972:15-16; McNaughton 1979:19). Whatever its origins, however, most Mande think it was

close relatives. Details of its spread remain to be elaborated, but we can be sure considerable adaptation occurred, with individu-

well established by the time the Mali Empire rose to power. Oral traditions say Fakoli,one of the

als,communities,and regions all putting their mark on the institution (Compare,for example,Colleyn 1998; Diamitani 1999;

Mali Empire's great generals and strategists, was a master of the Kama and helped spread it as the Empire grew. Wherever Fakoli went,Kama was estab-

Dieterlen and Cisse 1972;Jespers 1996; Labouret 1934; Kante 1993; McNaughton 1979,1988;Travele 1929;Zahan 1974; and

lished,and it is easy to imagine that the association was used strategically as an

Zobe11996). It is even possible that this process of adoption and adaptation continued east

agent of unification in Mali's ascendancy. Under Fakoli's influence,three smiths' clans(Dumbiia, Koroma,and Sissoko)

into Nigeria.There, horizontal helmet masks abound,among many different ethnic groups.Information is sparser, but very sug-

advanced the association further afield, beginning a history of tremendous expan-

gestive of possible connections to the western savannah lands of Mande(Fardon 1990; McNaughton 1991,1992;Sieber and Vevers 1974).The tremendous variation in the head-

sion (Dieterlen and Cisse 1972:15-16; McNaughton 1979:19). To the east, probably beginning in the 1400s,complex patterns of gold mining, commerce, military forays and state building resulted in the spread of /Coma and associations very much like it into western Ghana and several areas of Ivory Coast (McNaughton 1992:79-83). Diamitani (1999) has shown that the Kama became very important among the Tagwa-Senufo of Burkina Faso,and Jespers(1996) has shown that a dynamic form of K6m6 spread from Senufo and Bamana areas throughout the Minianka (Miniyanka)area in south eastern Mali. Binger (1892:1,379)

dresses themselves bespeak an extremely dynamic history of acculturation. This thumbnail history makes it clear that Kama,like so many other social phenomena,complicates the issue of ethnicity. Komi) headdresses are pan-Mande and more.The Minianka (Minyanka) are an excellent example.They possess a thriving Kama,and many other Mande power associations, upon which Jespers(1996)and Colleyn (1998) have done extensive research. However,they speak a Voltaic language.In 1987,Jonckers wrote that they call themselves Bamana in the sense of the



appellation that means"those who refused the master"(Jonckers 1987:5).This

demonstrated in a very valuable dissertation by Boureima Tiekoroni Diamitani

is a common way to indicate resistance to Islam,and,in fact, many Bamana use the term to mean that,too.Jonckers states

(1999). Many sources,stretching back one hundred years, have reported Komo's decline,

that Minianka adopted many elements of Bamanaya (Bamana things,or ways of being Bamana),as part of their stand against Islam and centralized authority.

and it has most certainly been under intense assault from Islam,colonial administrations, and two post-colonial Malian governments(Tauxier 1927; lmperato 1983;

Other scholars agree (Imperato 2001; Kone

Zobel 1996). But in the 197os I constantly

2001). Colleyn notes that Minianka people can be considered Bamana because they partake of a Bamana way of life, which

learned of Komi) branches in places where they had allegedly disappeared. In 1998

includes such Mande associations as Kama (1999:80). All this information suggests

assured him they are currently members of the association. It is quite possible that

the influence these power associations can have at the very foundations of peo-

Kelm)has never been as threatened as it seemed,or that its value as a serious-prob-

ple's identities. It also shows that individuals can use institutions and art to continually transform themselves in the fluid

lem solving institution is being recognized again, with the rise of the twenty-first cen-

milieu that is human nature. Maninka have adopted and made their own a very dynamic form of the /Como.So too have the Tagwa-Senufo of Burkina Faso,as

Kassim Kone talked to numerous men who

tury. When societies around the world contemplate themselves,they often find pride in certain of their cultural institutions. KOrno is assuredly one such institution for people all over the western Sudan.






The KOnOi

The sanctuary

Bamana area as independent entities.4

Kano houses form with the compound portal quite impressive monuments.The house itself is in the middle of a small

Some of them indeed still exist, but they

courtyard surrounded by crenelate walls. A banner(Konojonjon)at the end of a pole surmounts this threshold. Prior to the

case for the Makungoba (also called

have been recycled in other cults such as the Kano,the Manyan and the Nya.Such is the Bakongoba,Nangoloko or Watiriwa), which

feast,teenagers decorate the walls with

has been included in the Kona.This"power object"5 has become quite famous in the

colored drawings.There is no doubt that

West,ever since the photo of the piece—

this beautiful architecture has been influ-

brought to France by Griaule and Leiris after the Dakar-Djibouti expedition—was published in the avant-garde journal Le

enced by the Sudanese style that was widely propagated by Djenne masons.This Muslim influence is not lost on the local inhabitants. One day in Kemeni,the village from where Marcel Griaule and Michel Leiris had "confiscated" a Kona mask',we asked our friend Drissa Sanogo to show to the village chief a picture of the sanctuary with Griaule in front of it. Drissa prompted the old man,saying"You see that /Ono house,the one like a mosque?"

Expansion and decline of Kona In the186os,the Muslim armies led by al Hajj Umar attempted,often with success,

Minotaur in 1935. Another Kona boli,called Cecile, has an anthropomorphic aspect; a third one,KOnajuguni, has an oblong form, with a ring at one end. As with nearly every ancient cult in Mali, the KOnb is attributed a Soninke origin. It used to be widespread throughout all of present-day Mali and in the west of Burkina Faso. Fifty years ago the number of Kano sanctuaries,in the regions of Segou and Sikasso alone,was estimated at more than one thousand.Werena in Dioro district, where the Keno no longer exists, was a major center of diffusion.This village was the seat

to destroy the Bamana cults and their

of a "Kona"considered as the"mother"of

boliw.They burned the royal boliw of Segou,the famous Makungoba,

hundreds of Komi roughly distributed between Saro in the north,Segou in the

CAT. 66

Nangoloko,Kontoro, Binejugu,and others,

lamb helmet mask

but All,the last Bamana king, managed to flee to Hamdallahi with some of them.' When al Hajj Umar took Hamdallahi, he

west,Morena in the south,and beyond the Burkina border in the east.This diffusion process has been partly traced (see map). In a Bamana village, religious life is based on diversity and competition.A single village may host tens of different power

&ton region

Wood. H.48 cm. The Keith masks are the largest, the most stylized, and the barest of the horizontal masks. Contrary to the Kemb mask, this mask's form is very simple and seems naked compared to the Kbmb, as it is covered with horns, claws, teeth, and feathers. The lanb mask, simultaneously represents an elephant (wisdom, intelligence) and a bird (spirit, ubiquity) lays emphasis on the ears.

also ordered these boliw be burned, but some copies or"children" were hidden. After the fall of Segou, however, most of

associations (jaw).The heads of the various

the royal boliw that had been distributed

lineages can freely affiliate their

among the small states(kafow) dependent of Segou practically disappeared from the

dependents—all male members of the lineage younger than themselves—to the dif-



FIG.41 Keno chiefinfront ofhis sanctuary

ferentjow.The same man may be a member of the Koma,the KOnO,and the Noma. The village of Fonfana,with its five sections (sokalaw), has four Kono sanctuaries, nearly one per section. Kintieri,a larger village with seventeen sections ruled by Mande migrants, had eight /Ono societies, but two have recently disappeared.

Wara,the Nango,and the Nya,the Kona also belongs to the mythical class of waraw,the "wild beasts," which are pitiless, dangerous and omnipotent, but can be propitiated.The remarks which follow, hold for all the waratype entities, each being feared as well as worshipped.The priests (jo-tigiw) ask for their protection,while being well aware of their dramatic destructive power.These

An impossible definition

deities are often symbolically assimilated to female powers that brave men dare"marry"

What is the Kona? The identity of such a

in order to domesticate their strength, with-

divine power is kept secret,and its name must not be uttered in public.The Kano cannot be reduced to the description of the

out ever wholly succeeding. Obviously,

materials involved in the cult, nor to the metaphors used to qualify it in the songs, prayers,and incantations. Neither can it be reduced to the explanations given by their

these "wild beasts"are not the ones actually encountered in the bush:they are of mythical nature, borrowing their characteristics from the hyena,the lion,and the elephant, but also from various species of antelopes and birds.Their major quality is polymor-

priests while answering an anthropologist's

phism,and this is the reason why they can-

questions6,nor deduced from the settings of ritual performances. It can only be approached through a multiplicity of indices, but basically, it has to remain secret. Just as the KOmo,the Nama,the Ci-

not be portrayed as clear-cut characters. Strangely enough,although the KOno is mainly considered a female entity, all Ma lia ns who speak French say "le"/Ono, with a masculine article;the same gender


Mpessoba, 1997

CAT.167 !Ono mask Minianka, Koutiala region

Wood. H.114.5 cm.


Kano mask Minianka, Koutiak region

Wood. H. 106.5 cm.



uncertainty also being observed for the Kama,the Nama and the Nya.

a special liana (nofo).7Their clothes were thrown on the roof of the hut to show the power of the Kan& During colonial times, several leaders of societies such as the

Social functions The functions of the Kano are to foster female fecundity and agricultural fertility, to resolve conflicts,to calm down or punish trouble-makers,and most of all to intimidate the soul-eating creatures(subagaw). Because a human birth must always have a deity's favor,the Kona is said to "give birth"to people. A woman or her

Kama,the Kano,the Nama and the Nya were prosecuted and sentenced to prison by the Justice Department as a result of a conflict between the two different judicial systems. Disapproval by Islamic authorities on the one hand and by colonial judicial institutions on the other,contributed to the loss of legitimacy of these cults.

husband can make a wish, promising a sacrifice if the Kona gives them a baby. If they have one,it will receive a "Kona name,"such as Cecele,Jonke, Konoce(man of Kona') or Konomuso(woman of Kona).To be credited with favoring reproduction is, of course,a powerful legitimizing mechanism:the villagers need the Kano,or similar mystical entities,to reproduce themselves. But the Kano also kills. As McNaughton puts it, major boliw"are generally said to do good, but in the Mande world of sorcery, players fight fire with fire."(see p.169). As with other"wild beasts,"the Kane, is expert in obscure knowledge (dibi). A main branch of the Konoâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;as is also the case for the Kama and the Nangoâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;is even called Dibi. Praise songs evoke the friendship between the Kona and "naughty women"(musojuguw), from whom the Kona is said to have learnt secret knowledge.The taking of certain roots for the preparation of the holy water contained in a jar kept in the sacred wood for the fabrication of boliw,a very secret ritual,takes place during the night.The priests are dressed as women,so as to evolve,symbolically, in the"women's nocturnal bush,"(suba musow kungo). Before colonization, all the wara cults imposed their justice. Many people still

The mask and the performance When the Kona (i.e. a masked dancer, with his costume covered in feathers) appears in front of the male initiates, he dances with tremendous energy and then suddenly crouches on the ground,whistling. A man who strikes the ground with a sort of pestle follows him.The mask wearer is said to be possessed by the Kona.This apparition occurs in the absence of music, but the Kano is flattered with songs, which are softly whispered by two Kano singers. According to the elders, in the past, Kano"talked to people," but he no longer does this. He only produces a frightening whistling sound. Sacrifices to the boliw are performed in the Kano holy wood,at some distance from the village, where the Kona "eats." The Kona, masks are the largest,the most stylized,and the barest of the horizontal masks.This mask's form is very simple and seems naked compared to the Kama, covered as it is with horns,claws,teeth and feathers.The wood mask has no horns, but does have large ears. Again differing from the Kama,the eyes are marked,though this is only apparent when the mask bows his head. Covered with a crust proper to the boliw,the Kona masks are nonetheless periodically washed and bleached with kaolin.

remember dramatic scenes where guilty individuals would strip in front of the Kano sanctuary,confess their crimes,and then subsequently die after a short period of mental illness.The victims of Kona were pulled towards their tombs with the aid of

Office and power The head of a family who wishes to"possess a Kano" pays tribute to a famous Kona chief and asks through marriage-witnesses



Komi mask Minianka Koutiala region Wood. H.98 cm. CAT.170

Kono mask Minianka, Koutiala region Wood. H. 112 cm.



Keno Diffitsionfrom Werena, an important historical center.

(furujatigiw)for a "daughter of his Kano." From then on,all his family helps him to "marry that /Ono," i.e. to acquire the secret knowledge,to pay a bride-price (furunafolo)for the acquisition of the boliw,the masks, but also the herbs and powders essential for the maintenance of this "thing-God."'The chief of the cult is then

Bougoudjana Kornantiedougou

said to be the husband of the Kano.The initiates learn codified gestures and formulas, but the admission itself is performed,at least nowadays,in a single night. Prior to colonization,villages were integrated into chiefdoms(kafow), which in

una -•


effect were small-scale states.The power associations(jow) were insinuated into this political framework,so that they were more often in a position allied to the existing political power,rather than challenging it. This, however,was not always the case,for the kafow and their boundaries were rather unstable and the balance-ofpower complex.The political leader

Nies:oumana •Sourbasso

•-", •Fizankoro

•Koutiala MALI


(Faama) might certainly be a Kona priest, but it was not his innate privilege. Families that were excluded from any political position,even former slaves,could amplify their social influence by founding a Komi (or some other) sanctuary. When a man becomes a Kano leader (Kono-tigi), however, he is confined to an ascetic life with a series of ritual constraints and prohibitions.There are several Iamb family branches and a particular Kano might be stronger than another. A Kano can multiply, breed,and have descendents.Some initiates know the genealogy of their Kano branch,although they do not know the dates because after three or four generations,the relations between sanctuaries from the same metaphorical uterine descent, usually cease. As shown on the map,such a genealogy comprises a complex network of political alliances, which extends far beyond village boundaries.9

tionship,in that—as local formulations have it—this field is the prerogative of women. The most redoubtable danger is"endo-familial," when a clandestine enemy is threatening the family from within.Indeed,only intimacy can find a flaw in the security system perfected and perpetuated by the elders. Beneath a normal appearance,some people, it is said,are not regular human beings,they are"things that catch."They have the faculty of capturing a vital component of the human person,of incorporating it in an animal and then eating it at night in the bush—while the human victim dies in the village. Subagaw are said to form mutual societies, each member having to offer his peers a cannibal banquet:"You cannot eat at the other's and then,when it's your turn,not be able to

Gender and secret knowledge Suspicion about secret knowledge primarily brings into play the male/female rela-

offer them a little something." If no other candidate is found,in order to honor this obligation sorcerers are ultimately required to sacrifice their own children.

I 190


Although men are not formally considered as excluded from such "meat-eating" societies,these are nonetheless reputed as a predominantly female domain. In occult knowledge,the men will always be a few

implies that they compensate for this

says"has to enter the village"),a preparative ceremony takes place outside the village,where the altars are made ready,sacri-

David Conrad recently explored what the oral traditions have to say about

4. 5.


7. 8. 9.

fices performed,and where the groom is bathed with protective medications. Only then is the new Kona,called dunan muso Kona (foreign wife Komi)introduced into the village.The marriage metaphor for the foundation of a cult has two major implica-

study of Bamana sculpture. I myselffound some correspondences with ritual data on

tions. First, it creates a political network,as does a matrimonial arrangement;second,it

deities designated as waraw.In Mamadou, Kouyate/D.T. Niane's version of the Sunjata epics,the brave Traore hunters who had won the princess had the idea of giving

says something about the divine entities that are married. In the history of ancient Mali, political alliances through marriage

been able to conquer her. For the first week,the king himself was unable to pos-

2. 3.

When a new Konb is to be married (one

female power,and he draws a parallel with Sarah Brett-Smith's assessment in her

the young Sogolon to the king of Mali, Maghan Kon Fatta, because they had not

This study is based on fieldwork effectuated in 1986 and 1987 in Werena,Dioro District and the related villages. Leiris 1934:235. Tauxier 1927:184. The Kontoro still exists in some villages ,as a specific hunters'cult. I use the terms"power objects" proposed by Patrick McNaughton to refer to boliw,and "power associations"to refer to thejow (McNaughton 1979). It is close to the term nyan fenw,often used instead of boliw. All the contributors to this volume would agree on the extreme reluctance of informants to orally explain a Bamana cult. The nofo liana was also used to remove iron from the smelting furnaces(see Zahan1960:217). Jean Bazin,1986. Sarah Brett-Smith (1983) and Philippe Jespers (1995)also identified genealogies of boliw, but the former's informants seem to establish them in patrilineal terms(Brett-Smith 1983:50).

As he is able to resist these,she submits to male authority, although she is certainly still the more powerful.

ciations. This state of affairs is seen through men's eyes,as justification for their own monopoly in religious matters.


tests his courage and resistance by confronting him with her magic weapons.

steps behind and progress more laboriously than the women.Meriting manly status handicap through thejow,the power asso-


takes her beyond the village limits,and she

played a major role. Peace comes from a successful alliance, war from the failure of the alliance or its refusal. For a king(Mansa, Massa or Faama),the best way to make peace with a potential rival is to give him a

sess the young woman:"She frightens me, this young girl," says the King,"I even doubt she is a human being. When I drew

sister or daughter in marriage.To refuse such a proposal was often taken as a declaration of war(Monteil 1924:355; Conrad

close to her during the night, her body

1990113872-3898). Marriage with a Kan&

became covered with long hairs.That scared me very much."(Niane 1965:11) In

something that could hardly be refused if the pretenders perform the necessary obligations, inserts the groom and his followers

other versions,the defensive weapons used by Sogolon include lion-like claws, porcupine-quill, pubic hair,and spikes protruding from her breasts(Zeltner, Camara, Jansen,Johnson,quoted by Conrad 2000:201). Here, it is impossible not to think about the powers associated with the most prestigious waraw,that heroic men have to marry in order to found a cult: claws,quills, hair,are precisely the objects and symbols that are included in the making of boliw,the sacred object attached to the notion of waraw. Moreover,the very fabrication of these power-objects requires female substances full of nyama,such as menstrual blood and placenta fragments.

within a network of /Ono power associations that does not coincide with the kafo, but contributes to a balance of powers.The female and marriage metaphor has thus not only a metaphysical meaning but political implications as well,in terms of social control and power. As the male villagers remain inferior to a female power like the Komi,they are all symbolically called,in ritual songs,"the women of the village," while the leader of the association is called her husband and his wives her cowives. Does male chauvinism have the last word? Of this,everybody,including the Kona-chief, remains unsure.

The parallel goes on.The bride is not brought directly into the village.The king




Komi zoomorphic power figure: boll Collected in Dyabougou. San region Wood, clay, organic materials. H.43 cm.

1 192



KOno zoomorphic power figure: boll Minianka region Wood,day, organic materials. H.40 cm.


Iamb zoomorphic power figure: boll Minianka region Wood,clay, organic materials. H. 38 cm.




Keno zoomorphic power figure: boll Minianka region Wood, clay, organic materials. H. 36.2 cm.



Kona zoomorphic power figure: boli Minianka region Wood, clay, organic materials. H.46.4 cm.



Ritual object:Samakun Bougouni region? Wood. H.47 cm. CAT.177

This object is put on a structure evoking the body of an elephant. During the Samadoo rite, a crucial phase in the Jo initiation, the initiates "enter into the body of the elephant".

Cow mask with figure: mishi Bougouni region Wood. H. 57 cm.




Antelope mask Sikasso region Wood,antelope horn, iron nails, fabric. H. 58 cm.

CAT.179 Kano mask Sikasso region Wood. H.44 cm.


Zoomorphic power figure: boll Collected in Dyabougou. San region Wood,clay, organic materials. H. 20 cm. This power object (boli) belonged to the Nama association and was collected in Dyabougou by Griaule and Leiris during the Dakar-Djibouti expedition of 1931.


CAT.181 Cow mask: mishi Bougouni region Wood, metal. 1-1.58.5 cm.




Ritual object Warden region Wood,fabric, earth, fibers, quills, pigment. H. 45.5 cm. Possibly an object related to the Kursikoloni (tattered pants) society. This society had the same function as the Ci-wara, encouraging the farmers in the field.



Ritual hood: Namakorokun? Wood,fabric, earth, fibers, quills. H.61 cm. Probably a Namakoro hood. The only masked person of the Jo, the Noonfii,wears this type of hood. It evokes the hyena, symbol of voracity and courage. This one has been transformed in an altar (bob) and received sacrifices.


Staff Wood, quills, fibers, fabric, earth. H. 147 cm. This staff was collected with the mask or hood.




cAr.185 Crest masks representing antelopes: Ci-wara Segou region Wood. H.84.5 and 73 cm. Ci-wara head (kun) from Segou area. The model for the male is the roan antelope (daje). For the female figure with offspring, the model is the oryx antelope (oryx beisa).




The Cl-warai

Structure of the society Among the various initiation societies,the

showing the distribution of the cult over a good portion of Malian territory. This author

Ci-wara occupies a particular position. It

has also published 538 drawings reproduc-

comprises a cult (Jo), with a sanctuary (Ciwara so)and sacred objects (boliw), but the

ing the Ci-wara headdresses repertoried in

initiations and a part of its public manifestations are organized by the village association,ton,which—as mentioned previous-

collections,classifying them according to style.This way one sees the extraordinary

ly—does not have a religious vocation.On

degree offormal research effectuated not by a particular artist, but by the ensemble of sculptors of Ci-wara"heads," whose

the other hand,it is an initiation society

range undoubtedly comprises a "transfor-

where the women are allowed to attend: they broadly participate in the rites,are

mation group." Unfortunately,the data presented by Zahan are difficult to use due to the author's taste for metaphysical specula-

responsible for the choir, may approach the boliw(but not touch them),and may eat the sacrificial meat.The children learn the rhythms and the dances from a very early age.The adolescents,girls and boys,are also charged with making the paintings of the "Ci-wara house,"just prior to the annual celebrations marking the dry season. Although the Ci-wara presents a more

tion. As known,in Mali it is deemed unsuitable to contradict an interlocutor,and politeness dictates that in conversation one attempts to reach a common opinion. No ethnologist,whether a native of Mali or a foreigner,is completely free ofthis difficulty. And if one is not vigilant in the extreme,a"machine"

open face than the other initiation soci-

that fabricates metaphors and invents etymologies is inevitably set in motion.We

eties, parts of its rites are kept very secret and are reserved for the initiated men.In the

will attempt,thus,to give an exposition of our state of knowledge about the Ci-wara in as

Jo cult area,the Ci-wara is present,

"sober"a manner as possible.

sometimes under the name of Namakoro (S. Male,1992).Certain appearances of the antelope masks are preceded by the eccentricities of the mask of a pilfering hyena called Namakoroni,or by the obscenities of a monkey mask(Ngon).These two masks are quite difficult to distinguish from the Ngon mask and the Suruku mask of the Kore. The most profound study devoted to Ci-wara is no doubt the 1980 publication

Cl-warn styles The famous Cl-warn antelope-headdresses, objects of a rare elegance,are among the world's best known pieces of African art. And ever since Captain Archinard's shipment to the Musee d'Ethnographie du Trocadero in 1882 of one such specimen,thousands of

by Dominique Zahan,Antilopes du soleil.

other Ci-wara examples have been acquired by private collectors and public institutions

This is a major contribution, minutely

around the world. Pascal Imperato has pro-

detailed,and including numerous precise descriptions as well as a map from 1958

vided a useful summary of the two main style-divisions of"Ci-wara heads:




There exist two principal sorts ofTyi Wara Koun among the Bambara: the ver-

Ci-warafrom Sego: region. Foto: Abbe Hemy. 1910

tical and the horizontal. Within these groups one finds several sub-styles. The vertical forms are encountered in the east of Bambara country, the horizontal in the west. (IMPERATO, 1970) But the designation "Bambara country"seems rather ambiguous,for lmperato gives some details which make it clear that


the distribution of Ci-wara extends well-

Ci-wara dance; the masks simulate a ritual coupling. Dye/c, 1987.

beyond "Bambara country" as defined by traditional ethnography: The vertical forms of the Tyi wara are found in the present day administrative cercles of Kolondieba, Sikasso, Koutiala, San, Macina, Segou and eastern Dioila. The horizontal forms are found in Yanfolila, western Bougouni, Bamako, Kangaba, Kolokani, western Koulikoro, southern Banamba and eastern Kita. (1MPERATO, 1970: 80, N.8)

Found widely throughout Mali under diverse forms,the Ci-wara has undergone a progressive decline,and today is only active in a few villages.'This defection may be explained by the usual factors:the seasonal exodus of the young people,the progression of Islam,and the commerce in objects of art. But to these may be added another factor,one proper to this institution:the introduction of the yoked plow (Zahan, 1980).The first function of this society was, in effect,to stimulate collective farming. The mask, namedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;according to locationâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;as Wara-kun, Wara-ba-kun, Namakoro-kun,or Sogo-ni-kun,is composed of a hood made of red fabric or from fibers dyed black,a skullcap from cotton, plant fibers or basketwork,and a crested headdress on top.The costume comprises a tunic covered with black fibers.The headdress is usually carved from dondol wood (bombax comui). It presents a complex symbolism,based on animal motifs. In the region of Segou,the male mask is larger,

I 202


with a strongly pronounced sexual organ,

D.Zahan lists the following associations:

placed under the collar, in the openworked

part of the socle. It takes the Hippotragus antelope (daje)for its model,while the female—smaller and carrying its child on the back—takes the oryx (sogo-ni)for its model. Oftentimes, notably in the region of Bamako and the Wasolon,the masks pre-

anteater/antelope • anteater/pangolin/antelope • the pair antelope/guinea-fowl • the doubled associations with two superposed antelopes,combined or not with a third animal • two anteaters vertically framing an antelope (Zahan,1980).

sent several combined animal motifs. FIG.44

The horizontal Ci-wara examples of Beledugu (but which also coexist with the preceding form in the Wasolon),are more

The "wearer 0/fibers"dresses, Dye/c, 198Z

complex because the animal figures here are often truncated.The upper part of the mask,always reserved for the Hippotragus antelope,shows just the head,or even just the horns and ears.The mask is usually carved in two parts joined by metallic fasteners covered with a plant-based glue.This head is provided with long horns curved towards the top,and sometimes with a second,shorter pair, pointed the same way. Sometimes a female figurine is fashioned at the base of the horns.The form of the snout is extremely variable: curved upwards or downwards, mouth open or closed.The lower section is devoted to an animal of convex form,difficult to identify,extremely stylized, with the male sexual organ in general markedly prominent. Here,Zahan recognized two animals:the pangolin and the anteater. Germaine Dieterlen and Youssouf Cisse, who base their view on a very wellknown narrative,see there rather a chameleon3(Dieterlen & Cisse,1972). D.Zahan puts forward the hypothesis, without being able to confirm it,that the vertical and horizontal styles correspond to different nutritive plants. A first vertical "antelope"style(Segou,San, Koutia la) would correspond to plants which are weakly rooted, but having high nutritional value: fonio, millet,sorrel. A second vertical "anteater-pangolin"style(Bamako, Wasolon) would correspond to strongly rooted, highly productive plants:sorghum and maize. Finally,the horizontal helmet style(western Mali and Beledugu) would correspond to creeping legumes(voandzou,



peanuts, beans). For Zahan,the horizontal masks of Beledugu present forms intentionally inversed,grotesque and derisory,a bit in the manner of the Kore ritual buf-

action upon the earth.Through farming, man "manipulates"the sun in having it fertilize the earth."It is via this union that the

foons.This argument would no doubt hold if the other styles were naturalistic, but

model of his association with woman is established, basis of his renewal through procreation."(Zahan 1960:34) The parallel,

such is not the case,and it seems difficult

explained by Zahan, between the penetra-

to affirm that a particular form is inversed. In all the known Cl-warn styles,the fantas-

tion of the earth by the farming tool and copulation,seems convincing owing to the

tical dimension of hybrid beings defying ordinary comprehension largely

testimony of various indices—linguistic, iconographic,and ritual. Another Ci-wara

supersedes concerns for realism. The art offarming would have been

competence consists of preventing or treat-

transmitted to man by three animals:the anteater(timba),the pangolin (ngonso), and the python (so). According to a belief widely held in the Segou region,the anteater knows the secrets of the earth, because it "spied on"the work of God at the moment when the seams of the earth had not yet been joined together. It thus knows where to dig the soil, but also had been condemned by God to flee from the sun. Message-bearing traces left on the

ing snakebites.The initiated know the repellent products,as well as specific antidotes to the venoms of different snakes present throughout the region. As I was able to observe on different occasions,in cases of snakebite the patient is lain upon the (removed) granary door—symbol of life with its perpetual opening and closing like the beat of the heart—and he is kept from sleeping until the medication has taken effect.The annual Ci-wara celebrations are always preceded by snakehunts.

ground by the anteater had already come to the notice of the diviners. In the west and south-west of Mali,this animal is often replaced by the pangolin,another burrowing animal,very rare in this part of Africa.(Zahan 1980:39,74)

The"masks'"coming-out The Ci-wara"come out" under the form of two"antelope" masks,one male and one female, moving about simultaneously.There exist several types of Ci-wara mask apparitions: at agricultural contests, at entertain-

Functions of the society

ments,and at the annual fête.

The Ci-wara glorifies agricultural work, exalts the complementarity of the sexes, as expressed in James Brink's synthesis:

A. The agricultural competition The wearers of masks,in a semi-bent stance,supported on their batons, make

The organization of the Ci-wara performance is based on the Bamana respect for the power and efficiency of the union of male and female. As human reproduction

their way forward between the farmers accompanied by a chorale of four adult men,young women and girls. These batons

is the result of the sexual union between man and woman,so agricultural fertility

are not ordinary canes:one of them is a boll, for it has in its middle an amalgam of material which receives sacrificial blood.This is

is attributed to the union between fire

the model of the first implement which was

(the sun), an expression of the male prin-

used to work the earth.The songs, music,

ciple, and earth and water, an expression of the female principle.

and masked dances galvanize the ardor of the young farmers supposing to imitate the mythical animal that originally taught man the art of agriculture. During these competitions,each of the hoe handlers has a num-

(JAMES BRINK 1981:25)

The Ci-wara exalts the sun and its

I 204


them to measure-up to the heroes of olden times. Men thus are constantly invited to take up the challenge of a venerable contest,just as their illustrious ancestors had done before them.The simple act of enumerating the paternal and maternal parents of the lineage in songs of praise,touches the individual to his very core. With the advent and gradual widespread use of the animal-drawn plow, at first ironically known as"the tool of laziness,"these competitions,though very much prized, have fallen by the wayside. B. The entertainment(nyinaje) As Mari Jo Arnoldi has pointed out,the Ciwara has been incorporated into numerous contemporary exhibitions of masks. Prior to colonization, masks of the Ci-waraâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;just like those of the Sogowâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;would appear during festivities at the Segou courts After colonial conquest,this usage persisted,and villages would send their delegation of Ci-wara to the main locales of Cercle during the July 14th celebrations [France's national-day]. Originally a ritual event,the snake-hunt has also been integrated into these more folkloric happenings.This is a quite special hunt,for it involves catching these serpents alive.The Ci-wara masked dancers exhibit them in public and manipulate them with impressive aplomb.These exhibitions have become quite rare, but have not disappeared completely: President Alfa Konare was so honored during festivities to mark the arrival of a democratic regime in Mali, in 1992. FIG.45

During the dance; when viewed in profile the headdress attains its aesthetic perfection. Dye/.e, 1987.

C. Anniversary celebrations The annual celebration, which lasts two ber of rows to work through;they all begin from the same starting-line and the first to reach the other end of the field is designated Ci-wara:farming animal. All the ini-

days,takes place between November and April, according to a calendar based on the moon's appearance. It includes two important phases:first,the sacrifices and the "re-

tiates remember with great emotion how they were overwhelmed by the songs,the fanning and refreshment offered by the

making"of the cult's objects,and second,a "sacred promenade"(yaala)throughout the whole village, with stops at precise spots

village's loveliest girls.The songs augment

where the union of male and female masks

the cultivators' bravery (dusu),inciting

is symbolized.



The "re-making"of objects There are two distinct categories of sacred objects, which,in order to stay powerful, must receive periodic treatment.The first concerns the"horns"(konaw) which contain a medicine (fura)to counter snakes. The powder inside the horn must be renewed and the horn itself must be anointed with sacrificial blood.The second category of objects concerns the boliw, which are usually kept in the"house of Ciwara,"and which are then brought out for the occasion.Their number varies from three to four,to around a hundred or more. They are first placed in calabashes,and taken to the village-edge where the sacrifices take place. After this,added to it is a small, portable boll, which is detached from the male headdress (to which it is normally affixed with a string).This small object is called the "boll of the fiber-knotters," which is to say,the mask-makers.The sacrifices are preceded by the offering of a pinch of millet grain for the children to chew ritually.Some water, beer and millet cream (dege) are carried by the"co-wife of Ci-wara." She is the wife of the cult's chief (jo-tigi), who is himself called Ci-wara's husband.The sacrificer eats a small portion of these substances,then pours the rest upon the boliw while pronouncing a prayer: "Behold your water to buy (draw) the millet. He took it on credit at the blacksmith's. Give him some reimbursement in day as in night. Health give to him. We are truly children, continue to show


Next comes the sacrifice of chickens, goats,and sometimes snakes as well. Blood acts to reinforce the society's altars,the meat is cooked and eaten,the skin is recuperated and tanned,and the head will serve in the preparation of remedies for

us the right path." "Behold the offerings of your chief. Behold the beer.

snakebites. D.Zahan sees in what he calls the Ci-wara ophiophily,a very complex solar

Bestow health on the village.

symbolism.The explanation that I came

Maintain the health of the family. Continue your path. As you comported yourself yesterday, Comport yourself today."

across in the field was more prosaic, but this too pointed to the important role attributed to the serpent in the origin of agriculture. In certain narratives,the serpent appears as a kind of prototype of the hoe. However,sto-

I 206


Ci-wara dance from Bougouni region, 1933.


Ci-wara sanctuary Dye/c, 1987.


Sacred pottery containing lustral water, inside the Ci-wara sanctuary Dye/c. 1987.



ries traced back to Wagadu—but widespread throughout the whole of Mali—relate that the first grains emerged

"resplendent as the sun,and beautiful as the most comely of women"(Dyele,1986). One never speaks of"dancers"in regard to

from the vertebrae of a primordial snake. By way of thanks for past harvests and their own fecundity,the women place cowries and coins as offerings before the

the sculptures or the masks,rather they are referred to as"wearers of fibers." The Ciwara couple—led by a bell-shaking guide,

boliw,and also recompense the musicians.

followed by musicians and the crowd— begins a ritual promenade.The procession


Crest mask with female antelope and calf: Ci-wara Segou region Wood, metal. H.71 cm. The mother has the oryx antelope as model, while the calf is shaped after the roan antelope. The female figure is often called Sogonikun (head of the small animal).


object related to another major event in human history:the invention of thread and textiles. It receives a sacrifice in the

halts at quite specific thresholds where the living enter into contact with the dead, where the past penetrates into the present and vice-versa:the quarter's portal,first well, ancient forge,first cooking-place,sanc-

Segou region Wood, metal. H.92.7 cm.

utmost secrecy, not at the villageoutskirts, but deeper in the bush at a secret place. All these operations are

tuaries of other cults,etc. At these places, the ancestors buried pieces of pottery containing specific samples of the

marked by the noisy intervention of the ritual buffoons(Korejugaw). During the first day of these celebra-

environment,reputedly active substances, and even body-fragments offounders of the village and the various cults which are

tions,the masks make their appearance after the sacrifices.They dance in the center of the village,surrounded by a large

established there. At each of these stops, the two masks crouch and sing a sort of

They also place offerings before a boll covered by a basket (cere-ba).This is a female-

crowd.The dances evoke the stride of the antelope, moving with rapid action of the hooves,its gaze focused in the distance, frequently bounding into the air to check for any potential threat. The second day,after new sacrifices, the appearance of the masks takes place under the form of a promenade around and inside the village, marking the territory. Water is sprinkled on the fibers from which the Ci-wara costume is made, by way of evoking the rain which is the farmers' benefactor.The wood sculptures are adorned with jewels,for they must be

Crest mask representing male antelope: Ci-wara

litany,symbolizing an act of coitus celebrating the union of sun and earth, man and woman.Moreover,each halt is the occasion for a dance and a song dedicated to a personage or a corporation (cult chief, ritual buffoons, blacksmiths, hunters).That evening the celebration culminates with the musical number of the cult chief,designated as the keeper of the "thing"(fen-tigi).The chief points the foot of Ci-wara towards the four cardinal points while murmuring a propitiatory incantation (kills!). For one year,the village space is reactivated with all the beneficent principles to assure its successful continuation.


2. 3.

4. S.

I 208


Ci-wara is a phonetic transcription: ci - to cultivate,and wara,beast. In the French literature,it is most commonly given as Tyi-wara,in English Ci-wara or Chi-wara. I know around twenty,but there are certainly more.See Wooten. This story tells of a race between the chameleon and the antelope,where the latter is fooled by the former. One of these"outings" was filmed by Dyele in 1986.See Colleyn,1987. The Ci-wara sanctuary at Segou was destroyed by Amadou,son of al Hajj Umar. He had a mosque constructed on the site. See Montei (1924:22)



Crest masks representing antelopes: Ci-wara &ton region Wood, string. H.87 and 66 cm. This pair represents the ideal Ci-wara couple, with the male inspired by the roan antelope and the female by the oryx antelope.

I 210



Crest masks representing antelopes: Ci-wara Sigou region Wood. H. 93 and 79 cms.





Crest mask representing male antelope: Ci-wara

Crest mask representing male antelope: Ci-wara

Segou region Wood. H.81 cm.

Segou region Wood, metal, elephant hair. H. 81 cm.

I 212




Crest mask representing male antelope: Ci-wara

Crest mask representing female antelope and calf: Ci-wara or Sogonikun.

Segou region Wood. H. 78.5 cm.

Segou region Wood. H. 61 cm.




Crest mask representing male antelope: Ci-wara Saro region Wood. H.80 cm. CAT.I95

Crest mask representing male antelope: Ci-wara &igen region Wood. H.80 cm.

I 214


CAT. 196

Crest mask representing female antelope and calf: Ci-wara Segou region Wood. H.70 cm. CAT.197

Crest mask representing female antelope and calf: Ci-wara Segou region Wood. H.70 cm.





Crest mask with female antelope and calf: Ci-wara Segou region Wood. H.66 cm.

Crest mask with female antelope and calf: Cl-warn Segou region Wood, metal, cowries shells. H. 57.8 cm.



Crest mask with female antelope and calf: Ci-wara finonu region Wood, metal. H. 54 cm.

Crest mask representing an hippotragus antelope and an anteater: Ci-wara Segou region Wood. H. 54.6 cm.

I 216





Crest mask:Sogonikun Koutiala region Wood. H.40.5 cm. CAT.203

Crest mask:Ci-wara Central Bamana region Wood, string. H.70 cm.

I 218


CAT 204

Crest mask:Sogonikun Sikasso region Wood. H. 53 cm.







Crest mask:combination of Ci-wara and Sogonikun Sikasso region Wood, cowrie shells, raffia. H. 52.5 cm. CAT.208

Crest mask:combination of Ci-wara and Sogonikun Sikasso or Koulikoro region Wood, basketry. H. 59.7 cm. Sogonikun is a name applied to an antelope headdress and to a type of masquerade that originated in the Wasolon and was adopted in neighboring areas. Like the Ci-wara, it was a village-based age set (ton) tradition performing in the village or in the field, during farming contests or when the ton was engaged in agricultural labor. Some performers also formed itinerant troupes (see P. Imperato, 1981).


Crest mask:Sogonikun Sikasso region Wood, metal. H.47 cm. CAT.2o6

Crest mask:Sogonikun Wood, cowric shells, raffia. H. 39.5 cm.






Crest mask:Sogonikun

Crest mask:Sogonikun

Koulikoro region Wood. H.23 cm.

Sikasso region Wood. H. 36.5 cm.

I 222


CAT. 211

Crest mask: Sogonikun Collected by Henry Kamer in Markala, Segou region, in 1958.

Wood. H.66 cm. CAT. 212

Crest mask:Sogonikun Sikasso region Wood. H. 50.8 cm.



CAT. 213

Crest mask:Ci-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood,iron. L. 62 cm.

CAT. 214

Crest mask: Ci-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood,iron, basketry. H. 34 cm.


Crest mask: Ci-wara Beledugu region? Late 19th or early 20th century. Wood. L. 78.5 cm. CAT. 2+6

Crest mask:Ci-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood, metal, string. L. 65.5 cm.




CAT. 217

Crest mask:Cl-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood, fiber, rattan, string. L. 75 cm.

I 226


CAT. 218

Crest mask: Ci-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood, metal, string. L. 58 cm.



Crest mask:Ci-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood, metal. H. 29.2 cm.




Crest mask:Ci-wara Southern Mali, probablyfrom WacoIon. Wood, metal strips and bands, basketry, string. L. 58.5 cm.

CAT. 221

Crest mask:Ci-wara Southern Mali, probablyfrom Wasolon. Wood,iron, basketry, feathers. L. 54 cm.

I 228


CAT. 222

Crest mask: Ci-wara Beledugu region Wood,iron. H. 25.5 cm. This Ci-wara is a composite of an oryx antelope and a pangolin.


Helmet mask with antelope heads Koulikoro region Wood, metal, fiber. H. 52 cm. Rare example of a Ci-wara helmet-headdress.




Crest mask:Sogonikun Between Bougouni and Kinian Wood. H.19.1 cm.


Crest mask:Ci-wara Bougouni or Dioila region, 19th century. Wood,string, basketry, feathers, beads, leather. H.64 cm. This Ci-wara is a composite of the hippotragus antelope and a pangolin.

I 230




Crest mask:Ci-wara

Crest mask: Ci-wara

Bougouni or Dioiia region. Wood. H. 51 cm.

Bougouni or Dioila region. Collected by Kjersmeier between 1935 and 1938 in Soulouba. Wood. H.49 cm.



CAT. 228

CAT. 229

Crest mask: Ci-wara Bougouni or Dioila region Wood, basketry, fiber. H. 56 cm.

Crest mask: Ci-wara Bougouni or Dioiia region Wood. H.45.4 cm.

This Ci-wara is a composite of the hippotragus antelope and an anteater.

This Ci-wara is a composite of the hippotragus antelope and a pangolin.

I 232



CAT. 231

Crest mask:Ci-wara Central Bamana. Collected by Kjersmeier in Faragoran between 1935 and 1938. Wood, metal, fiber. H. 35.5 cm.

Crest mask: Ci-wara Bougouni or Dioila region Wood. H.66.7 cm.

This Ci-wara head (kun) is a composite of a hippotragus antelope and an anteater.

This Ci-wara is a composite of the hippotragus antelope and a pangolin.



233 I

CAT. 232

Face mask: Ci-wara Boz,oftom Kita region. Collected by Michel Leiris and Marcel Griauk during the 1931 Dakar-Djibouti expedition. Wood, horns, glass, cowrie shells, seeds. H.78 cm. Ci-wara-ni kun from a farming association. Like the other forms of Ci-wara masks, these too danced in the fields to encourage the male farmers.


E " 0 LL U -1-J


Dialectics of Aesthetic Form

14--J vl CU < Li-0 VI U li-J U CU rt3 •




Dialectics of Aesthetic Form in Bamana Art


It is generally recognized nowadays that African art objects, like those of the Mande,cannot be fully comprehended outside their cultural context. We can appreciate them as works of art, we can be moved by them,but we can not really understand them. Understanding these affecting presences implies some knowledge of their meaning, uses and functions in the time-space coordinates of Mande action,experience and thought. Asserting that a people's art embodies their ideology,or some dimension or tenet of their ideology,is to state an assumption

Research on ideology in Mande art has focused mainly on the propositional information contained in artistic content. Besides my essay on the communication of moral ideology in Bamana kote-tlon theater (Brink1978), we have Bird's (1976)study of the meaning of Mande poetry,and Bird and Kendall's(1980) analysis of heroic actors and action in Mande epic literature.. These last two studies qualify as major contributions to our understanding of Mande ideology in art precisely because they penetrate the surface of artistic content to reveal

which has become part of the ideology of

some of the native concepts which relate this content to the Mande's collective

social science. We look upon a society's art

image of reality.This same degree of ethno-

as a source of information about the val-

image of reality. In doing so, we often

graphic depth is noticeably lacking in the analysis of aesthetic form. Although Bird's (1976)study ofform in Mande poetry and McNaughton's(1979) discussion of the for-

assume that the arts provide insight about matters which remain implicit in the soci-

mal criteria of Mande sculpture are significant and suggestive, we have not yet set

ety, matters which are not often directly expressed in everyday discourse. But it is

out the Mande's theory of aesthetic form in terms of its underlying organizing princi-

also true that artistic expression is both selective and often quite allusive as well; it

ples,or determined how this theory of art articulates with and expresses the Mande's vision of reality.'

ues, moral axioms,and other features of world view which suggest that society's

leaves much not said,to be filled in from one's general and specific knowledge of the culture. As such,discovering ideology in art presumes analysis of artistic expression,and equally important, it implies a cultural analysis of the meaning of artistic expression in the society. By means of the latter, we gain insight into the ideological foundations of art,that nuclear system of

I would like,therefore,to discuss the Mande's ideology of aesthetic form,and I will do so by drawing upon my field research among the Bamana of the Beledugu area of Mali and some published materials by scholars who have worked with Bamana of other areas of Mali. Briefly, I

thought within which art obtains its

want to outline some native terminology, ideas and processes which I believe will pro-


capacity to generate motion,emotion and

vide a sense of the semantic ground which

Entertainment during a Manyan ceremony Namporompela. 1994.

a deep sense of personal and social identity among its users.

unites the various arts into a Bamana theory of aesthetic form.



When Bamana create and evaluate art they draw upon two contrasting but complementary categories of knowledge which embody and summarize their theory of aesthetic form.On the one hand, Bamana say that the arts should express nyumaya,which we can render in English as"goodness," and,on the other hand, they say the arts should express dumaya orjakoya,that is,"tastiness" or "pleasure." These are obviously quite abstract notions, but a comparison of the criteria which Bamana use to define each reveals their essential meaning and their complementarity. An art form's"goodness" refers to its basic ordering characteristics,those qualities which give form an identifiable and appropriate shape in time and space, whereas an art form's"tastiness"summarizes the qualities which emerge to challenge,develop,embellish,improvise or change this given shape.We will return to some of the particular phenomenal characteristics of"good"(nyin) and "tasty"(di) shapes, but it is important to notice that these two dimensions ofform are complementary and that they establish through their reciprocal relations an aesthetic dynamic or dialectic,one whose circuity is not unlike that which is implied in the relationship between a theme and its variation or a topic and its comment,for example.Those features ofform designated as"goodness," in other words,establish the aesthetic order or definition which, then,serves as the condition and ground for the features designated as"tastiness" to arise and be played against this ground. Managing the interplay between these two dimensions ofform,that is, initiating and sustaining resonance between expression which is"good"and expression which is "tasty" is,for Bamana,what imbues form with transforming power,its capacity for creating valued existential states.The Bamana theory or ideology of aesthetic form,then,can be expressed as the managing of interplay between shape-defining features of"goodness"and shape-exploiting features of"tastiness" in an effort to


create and control socially valued, efficacious power. More succinctly,art for Bamana is form managing power. In order to develop the meaning of these statements, it is necessary to examine more thoroughly the meaning which Bamana assign to"goodness"and "tastiness," and also to define more precisely what is meant by managing form and controlling power in Bamana world view. I will treat these issues first in the context of Bamana myth,and then address them in greater detail from the perspective of the art creations process.

I 238


Two men possessed by Nya deity and their interpreter(below left), Wolobougott, 1994.

Except for an occasional Islamic interpretation,that the arts originated in Mecca,for example,the consensus among Bamana I spoke with is that their traditional artistic expression originated in the bush among spirits and animals. Most

unpredictability of the bush or the entropy of the primordial void,the lankolo or laloko, as it is sometimes expressed. But the power of"tastiness" also possesses the potential for bringing individuals together in a state

versions indicate that it was a hunter,or some other being comparably endowed

of oneness or communitas,in which they experience themselves as a moral and spiritual community.The arts of the Bamana

with knowledge of the bush and its inhabitants, who first learned of these matters,

thus come pre-defined by their origin as a mixed blessing for man- and womankind;

by being told about them say some accounts, by observing them directly

they are a mixed blessing which can be resolved in the favor of the collective good only by human beings themselves.

according to others. Returning to his village,the founder taught the people what he had learned,and in the process of doing so he transmuted the expressive acts and media of spirits and animals into culturally legitimate and understandable forms which the contemporary Bamana know and recognize as their traditional arts. Through the founder's transmuting acts the arts were made"good"and,as such,they were made to embrace and express the principle of"goodness."They were given a cultural frame,in other words,which subsumed the knowledge for their creation and evaluation,and set the conditions for their social use.These aesthetic and social constraints, however,did not alter the arts'substantive connection with their bush origin,for this was the principal source of their energy or power, their nyama.Bamana indicate that this power was instilled in the arts'"tastiness," those features ofform which stimulate the person's interest,imagination,emotion,involvement and action. Further, because of the continued presence of this power,a degree of uncertainty was introduced into the aesthetic process, not the least important of which was the possibility that the power of"tastiness" might undermine or destroy the culturally defined "goodness"of the arts. Beyond this, according to Bamana,the "tastiness" of art and its associated power possess the potential to drive the individual out of control,that is, beyond culture and into a psycho-social state which is said to resemble at its extremes the wildness and

To describe and explain form,Bamana commonly use terms derived from or having a semantic relationship to the word Jo. la is usually translated as"double," but it summarizes more generally what we would render in English as "identity."Thus aesthetic"goodness" is said to embrace the idea of jaya orjayan,"clarity"; similarly,"tastiness" impliesjako,"embellishment," and the social state established by means of the performance of aesthetic forms is often called jama,a word denoting the"public"or "crowd" in attendance at performance events, but it also denotes the sense of unity or oneness the public tries to achieve in and by means of performance. Before examining form in the context of the creative process,then,we should have a minimal understanding of theja concept. The word ja is often used by Bamana to designate the person's shadow and mirror reflection,and in a more general sense to refer to the material form and action of the body as it is monitored by the interior self and by exterior others, notably other persons.Theja of the person is said to mediate between the interior world of the person's soul (ni) and the exterior world of the social group. As such,the person'sja reflects his motivations,intelligence and character (tere),and,thereby,functions as a synthesis or portrait of the essential features of the individual's idiosyncratic and social identity, his personhood. Art is said to express the creator'sja,and thus provide access to the creator's identity. It is principally for this reason that a concept used mainly to identify a



principle of the person is used also to designate aspects of aesthetic form,including

Thus a Ci-wara headdress is danced in the performance event known as Ci-wara and,

the culturally-defined beneficial effects which art is presumed to have on the col-

in the same way,a kote-tlon play belongs to the youth's koteba performance and no other performance event. Further,each configuration comes pre-assigned to a perfor-

lectivity. Jayan,often translated as "clarity," refers generally to the accumulated wisdom underlying the Bamana's understanding of the"goodness"or cultural identity of aesthetic form. Handed down to the living from the ancestors,this knowledge is said to have been "dried down"or synthesized through generations of experimentation to leave the cogow, the"ways" which the present generations use to initiate, order,and identify their aesthetic expression. Each and every act of aesthetic expression possesses its cogo which carries instructions for creating the patterning of components or configuration for which its stands. In other words, every recognized dance step (sen-cogo), musical rhythm (fo-cogo),theatrical play

mance mode,either the praise (passa) portions of its event or the amusement (tlon-missen) portions of its event.The Ciwara headdresses are danced in the praise portion of the Cl-warn event since they summarize the essential meaning and purpose of the event itself. Following their performance,the namakolonikun ("little hyena head") mask should be danced since it represents the Ci-wara event's appropriate form of amusement,in this case theater. Passed down from the ancestors,then, the cogow contain the instructions for ordering the cultural identity or"goodness" of aesthetic expression in the present.They provide the frameworks or aesthetic constraints within which "tastiness"orjako

(yele-ko-cogo),and dance mask (kun-cogo), etc. is the realization of its particular cogo.

may unfold.

Beyond this,the cogo provides instructions about the object status of its configura-

theja"or"thing of identity"â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that which gives form an identity in time and space. More specifically,jako refers to the elements ofform which are"added on"to the basic

tion.Thus a Ci-wara headdress,for example,should manifest the Bamana's criteria of"good"sculptural form generallyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;that sculpture should not render faithfully in every detail that which it represents, but suggest it by capturing a sense of its natural proportions, balanced features, together with particular attention to its special identifying characteristics. Similarly,a kote-tlon play's"goodness" is defined in terms of representing the inverse of Bamana ideal morality and exploiting it by means of conventional strategies common to Bamana theater generally,such as comedy,farce,satire, and the blending of exaggeration and juxtaposition these strategies imply. In addition to the configuration's object status,a cogo also carries instructions about its subject status,that is, its performance. Each recognized dance step, rhythm,etc.should be given form in the performance event (nyenaje)to which it is customarily assigned.

Literally translated,jako means"thing of

configurations so as to embellish them,distinguish them from others of the same type, activate their energy flow and,on the whole, to give them a renewed life and identity in the context of the living community. Unlike jayan,then,which links a rhythm,dance step or a piece of sculpture,for example,to its abstract cultural identity, its timeless"goodness" in the past,jako ties these configurations to the persons or groups giving them form in the present. By embellishing these configurations with jako, people recreate them and,in so doing,they can be said to recreate themselves.It is in this reshaping of aesthetic and social form in the here-andnow which jako makes possible,that art obtains its affecting power for Bamana,its power to create motion,emotion and involvementâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;its"tastiness," in other words. Consistent with the idea thatjako activates a configuration's power,its nyama,


and reveals its "tastiness," Bamana associatejako with the "heating up"of aesthetic form,whereasjayan refers more to the idea of"cooling down"form.lako,in other words,summarizes the Bamana's aesthetic of the hot,as opposed to their aesthetic of the cool.Thus fast tempos in music, dance and theater,for instance,allow performers to imbue form with their heat, energy and their ideas,to improvise upon the basic configurations. In music,this means the inner time of the rhythm is explored by means of cerotike,"cutting [the rhythm] in the middle,"that is, doubling the tempo and syncopating the beat.

of the formal constraints which exist to order expression as aesthetic,and control and direct its power. Rather, art for Bamana implies sustaining an equilibrium between expression which underlines the cultural identity ofform,its aesthetic"goodness," its jayan or"clarity"â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and expression used to embellish and play upon that formâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;its "tastiness," itsjako. Maintaining this dynamic interplay in the performing arts is often expressed as keneya,a word denoting "suppleness" but referring to artistic virtuosity in general. Keneya in music and dance, for example,consists of improvising within the format provided by the given rhythms

In dance music,this is the dancer's cue to improvise upon the dance step, normally by breaking the given movement

thetic identity of these configurations is

sequences into smaller units and distributing them to the upper torso,shoulders,

down, played with and otherwise submitted to the creative "cleverness" of the perform-

neck, head,arms and hands,thus augmenting and increasing the infrastructure of the overall spatial design. Wooden masks and headdresses obtain their energy mainly from being danced and from

ers. Doing so,the performers unite themselves with aesthetic tradition, at the same

and dance steps, in such a way that the aesnever lost even though they are broken

time that they imbue that tradition with the intelligence and character of theirja,

their decoration for performance. As for

and the force, heat or power of their soul (ni). For Bamana,it is this kind of"supple-

the latter,they are usually rubbed with

ness,"this kind of virtuosity, which embod-

karite butter or peanut oil to enhance their luminosity. In addition,some are decorated

ies the power to generatejama,a social state in which performers and onlookers transcend social structure and become unit-

with strings of brightly colored beads and other jewelry and decor.This is especially

ed and grounded on a spiritual plane.

true of Ci-wara headdresses,since the jewelry is considered both a sign of their power offecundity and an act of communal praise designed to enhance their "tastiness," and thus to release their beneficial power upon the community. The energy flow which jako introduces


This unpublished text was written for a panel entitled Mande Art and Ideology organized by Patrick McNaughton, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee,Oct.1981. 2. Editor's note: Since the writing of this essay, Sarah Brett-Smith has published a book dealing with the ideological, moral,and artistic implications of Bamana sculpture(see Brett-Smith, 1994).

In summary,as I specified at the outset, the Bamana's theory or ideology of aesthetic form consists of the construction of interplay between shape-defining features of "goodness"and shape-exploiting features of"tastiness."This dialectic of forces works

into form should not hide or annihilate the

itself out in the aesthetic creation and com-

cultural identity of the configuration

munication process in terms of the interplay between the constraining aspects of form known generally asjayan,and the improvisational,embellishing components

which it is the purpose ofjako to embellish.The Bamana are quite clear on this pointlciko energizes the basic configurations,and it may suggest ways they may be altered or changed in the future, but

ofform,commonly designated asjako. Art,

jako is not supposed to subvert these configurations,or"break their support," as

managing of interplay between these force fields,that is, pulling them from their oppositional alignment,their collision course in

Bamana say. Doing so would reduce expression to embellishment,"tastiness" and power alone,thus removing any sense

like social life in general, is for Bamana the

nature, by using one's human intelligence and sensibilities to create equilibrium.



GLOSSARY al Hajj Umar Tal (1794-1864):from Fouta Toro,in Senegal,founded the Toucouleur Empire.

enemies,danger and failure on the one

with blood sacrifice. Bolison,"sacrifice to

hand,with friends,security and success on

the boll." Bozo: small ethnic group offishermen of the

He was an advocate of the Tijaniya Sufi

the other. Discussing the process of creat-

brotherhood,and led a holy war(jihad)

ing a basi, Sarah Brett-Smith defines it as

Middle Niger, probably coming from Ghana

across all West Africa. He probably died in

"any substance or object that is

(Wagadu),with the dispersion of the

the explosion of a powder keg, while he was surrounded by a coalition of his ene-

instrumental in fulfilling a'need."(BrettSmith 1994:25).

Soninke clans. Bumu:plant, Bombax buonopozense

mies. His sons and nephews shared the

batin:esoteric sciences



Beledugu: region, north of Bamako

Bwa: population from the west of Burkina Faso

badenya:"mother-childness"denoting children of the same father and mother,who are said to be cooperative and supportive of

Bendugu: region,south of Bani river.

and the east of Mali.The term Bobo(Bobo

bilakoro Nanfiri or Fri Nyogoni:society of uncir-

Oule) is often (improperly) applied to the

cumcised boys in Baninko.

one another.8adenya symbolizes unity, social solidarity, respect for authority,coop-

bilakoro(w): uncircumcised and uninitiated


Birgo: region, north-west of Bamako.

Bairam (Id al-Fitr):feast which terminates the month of fasting. Grand event directed by Muslim dignitaries. balafon: xylophone

boy(s). Biton Coulibaly:founder of the Bamana

Bwa. Caiba pentandra: plant(kapok tree). cefari: brave man Cebilenke, Cebilence or ablence: uncircumcised boys'society in Beledugu, masquerade.

Kingdom around 1712. He became the

Also a mythical and ritual character. Lit: the

leader of a youth association (ton)and

"red man of the men".cekoro kun: the

transformed it into a military force.

"head of the ancestor".Sacred object (bolt)

balanza: plant (Acacia Albida)

bogolanfini: lit, mud-dyed cloth.

Bamana: in the strict sense,those who speak the

boli(w): objects which are mystical sources of

of the Jo. cikaro(w):elder(s)

Bambara language; in a wider sense,those

power, portable altars used in ritual sacri-

cere-ba: large basket

who are part of the non-Islamic cults,jow. Boman째yere-yere:truly true Bamana(who

fice. Boliw work positively,as protection,or

cerotike:for a dancer,cutting a musical rhythm

aggressively.They produce radiation of

in the middle,that is, doubling the tempo

will never pray to Allah). Bamanaya:the

nyama that harms and are often consid-

and syncopating the beat.

fact of being Bamana.

ered dreadful because their power is over-

ciya: manhood.

whelming and conceptually located at the

cinyen tigi: the "keeper of the truth," ritual func-

edge of the distinction between good and evil. Masks or headdresses which power

Ci-wara:deity, power association and masquer-

Bambara:name given by the French following Fula,Arab or Berber informants. Never used by the people it designated, but offi-

tion in the Jo cult. ades. Ci-wara so:shrine of the Ci-wara.

cialized by colonial administration. Now official name for the first language of Mali

associations use are also considered as

and for the people living in the center-

brought from Mecca in the Fajigi tradition.

dance step;fo-cogo: musical rhythm;yele-

south of Mali.

Bamana kingdoms had state-owned boliw,

ko-cogo:theatrical play,kun-cogo mask's

Baninko: region south of the Bani River. Cercles of Didila and partially of Bougouni. barabara:the favorite wife basi(w): no satisfactory English equivalent; sometimes inadequately translated as "medicine." All spiritually endowed objects and healing materials including medicinal

boliw.Some are claimed to have been

others belong to initiation societies,and

cogo(w):way(s), manner(s), pattern(s).Sen-cogo:


great numbers of them are in the posses-

cu(w): large semi-spheroid drum(s).

sion of individuals.The boliw receive blood

Da Monzon: Bamana King of Segu from 1808-

from sacrifices in order to call upon and influence the vital force known as nyama.

daje:the roan antelope

Boliw can be fashioned from a wide range

dalilu(w):secret,spiritual power, protective med-


of materials(wood, bark,stones,tree roots,

icine and occult knowledge gained on a

herbs and potions as well as the pots, bot-

leather, metal,cloth, bone, hair,animal

sacred journey or quest; recipe for amass-

tles and jars that hold them.Protective

tails,claws and teeth, blood, human ingre-

ing,activating,and directing the energy

charms and amulets,divination tools and

dients including excrement, placentas,and

symbols,all sorcerers'equipment including their tunics, boliw, masks,and sculptures.

pieces of corpse). See Henry 1910:140-141;

In general basiw are conceived of as things that do good,although some objects of ill-

called nyama. dalimasigi: a journey undertaken by a young

Mantel'1924:253,270; Dieterlen 1951:92;

hunter leaving home for a period ranging

Cisse 1985:14; Brett-Smith 1994:23; Colleyn

from a single dry season to three years. He

and Clippe11998:123. Alternatively,the boli

goes in search of adventure and to hunt,

does not have to be manufactured. A

but most of all for knowledge,reputation

intention can also be called basiw,such as korotE(poison). In Mande society, ritual

canoe,a kettle,a leather bag,a root,a

objects are commissioned and created to achieve practical goals in a world offering

stone,or a book can assume the character and function of a boli once it is anointed

I 242


and fortune. dankelen: being alone,solitude. daro: iron bell

dege: millet cream


di: good,tasty

fa suu son: offering to the ancestors (lit:"dead

Dia:city in Massina, unrivalled reputation as

Niger River in Mopti region.


"...the great center for the production of

faama(w):ruler(s) or king(s).

amulets in the valley of the Middle Niger."

faarow orjidenw: lit."water children." Lesser

(Monteil 338). Also center of Islamic studies. Diarra (Jara)dynasty:dynasty of kings who ruled

Gwan dusu: heart of Gwan,a female first-name,

of the same father but different mothers,


whose relations are usually considered to

world's appearance and character resides.

goni: plant (Sclerocarpus Africanus)

and the riverbanks. facinyin: heritage, patrimomony. fadenya:"father-childness" referring to children

To have a spirit ally is to increase your


galomuso:the bad wife,cause offadenya. gwala:lime

to 1862,when Segou was taken by al Hajj

where so much of the power behind our


spirits who occupy both the watery depths

the Bamana kingdom of Segou from 1766

dibi: world of obscurity,darkness,ambiguity,

funew: bards specialized in Islamic discourse.

be fraught with jealousy and competition for power.Symbolizes rivalry, assertiveness, courage,individuality. Fajigi: hero of a legendary pilgrimage to Mecca

incarnating the ardent will,the supernatural force,the divine and human spirits of the creation. GwanJava ba:great lion of Gwan,a male firstname. Gwan society: some villages that practice Jo society rituals also possess a cult called Gwan, which may or may not be incorporated into

influence in that very important realm and

during which powerful boliw were collect-

to enhance your success as a power associ-

ed and brought back to Mali.The Fajigi oral

problems conceiving and bearing children.

ation leader.

traditions have been seen as by-products

(see Ezra essay).

Djinn orjinn:(from Jinniyya in Arabic) general term for spirits (genies);these included gnena,kungofen (thing of the bush),gate, bilissi and wokilo,to name a few. Dogon:small group of clans who live on the Bandiagara plateau and the plain down the cliffs (Cercles of Koro, Bankass, Bandiagara and Douentza).They are also

Jo. Its purpose is to help women who have

of"Africanization"of Islam (Monteil

Gwandenw or Gwanyiriw: Gwan sculptures

1924:331; Levtzion 1973:200).

Gwanfolo :"first Gwan", male first-name.

Fakoli Dumbiya: one of the Mali Empire's great generals and strategists. He was a master of the Korn& and helped spread it as the Empire grew. Faro: a deity in the creation myth,a water deity. Faro is the"double'(dya orja)of all that

Gwantigi: name of a statuette,"proprietor, master or chief of Gwan': horon:the majority population comprised largely of farmers and traders.The term is often translated as"noble"(free) as opposed to nyamakala,jon and woloso.

known as the Kado(plural Habbe)or Ceddo

exists;" it combines the opposing forces of

(plural Sebbe) by which the Fula designated

cultural order and nature as represented by

reflection, but it summarizes more gener-

polytheist people.

Ndomodyiri and Nyale (or Musokoroni)

ally what we would render in English as

Dogora: plant, Cordyla africana

respectively. Consistent with its juxtaposi-

"identity."Theja of the person is said to

dolo: millet beer

tion of opposites within one figure, Faro is

mediate between the interior world of the

donso ton: hunters'group; highly organized

depicted as male and female,an androgy-

person's soul (ni) and the exterior world of the social group.

Ja: usually translated as"double,"shadow, mirror

association of rugged and often intimidat-

nous deity which is said to be "neither the

ing individuals from a community or a

beginning nor the end but the center,"the

region.They can be a serious force in local

pivot,"the head of all things."(Dieterlen,

or thing of identityâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;that which gives form

affairs,and may have served as crack


an identity in time and space.

troops during empire and state building. duga:vulture, but also deity(and a boll). dugu:village. Dugu duman: prosperous village. Dugu-duman-yiri-bi-wooyo:the Good Village's Tree Cheers appears as an antelope puppet masquerade that carries a

fasu sonna:the donor to the spirits of the dead.

jala: plant,Khaya senegalensis.

fe mogow:sculptures less prominent in ensem-

Jalonke (Dyalonke): a minority group from West

bles of ritual sculptures referred to as"side

Mali (Faleya area)and North Guinea,

people" or"companions."

speaking a Niger-Congo language close to

fen-tigi: master,owner of the"thing"(masks and boliw).

small puppet representing a mother with

fo ball:interdict,"the thing not to say."

child on her back.

foo yira:"to show the fibers."The Jo Initiates

dumaya orjakoya:"tastiness"or "pleasure."

dress in the costumes made offibers deco-

dunubaw:large drums of the Kore.

rated with red and white seeds that they

dusu: heart,courage.Dusu also designates the

prepared during their period of training.

hollow cavity of the smelting furnace

This event enables them to present their

where transformation of the iron ore takes

new status as initiates to their families and

place (S. Male).


Dyalonke(see Jalonke) Dyele:Minyanka village close to the Banifing river. Sangasso district. dyo dyo: truth

jako:"embellishment," means"thing of theja"

Fula: one of the most important ethnic groups in Mali (also known as"Peul").They spread all over West Africa. Herders,they lead their

the Susu. jama:a word denoting the "public"or"crowd" in attendance at performance events, but it also denotes the sense of unity or oneness the public tries to achieve in and by means of performance. Janko:women's counterpart to Ntomo,is extremely secretive,and prepares its members for adulthood and marriage. lora bugu:Jo sanctuary,special house used to keep ritual objects. Jaya son:offering to the "sweetness of life" in Jo rituals.

animals through the inland delta of the



farad.kun:the"head of the male lion."Sacred object (boll) of the Jo. Jaraw:"lions",group of Ntomo initiates, but also group ofJo and Kore initiates. jaya orjayan: clarity. Refers generally to the

Jo shi or Jo kith,:Jo type or band,group of boy initiates. Sub-groups have distinctive types of performance style,costume, musical instrument,and in some cases,sculpture. Jo yaala: ritual journey.The Jodenw go from vil-

region in the mid-eighteenth century. kenge: musical instrument, bell with external clapper. kenyenkwo:rite,"washing of impurities" in the Jo cult.

accumulated wisdom underlying the

lage to village, performing musical shows

Kenyenw or Nkenyenw:ritual function

Bamana's understanding of the

with their instruments(drums,horns,and

performed by the youngest class of Jo initi-

"goodness" or cultural identity of aesthetic

horses) and carry the Jonyeleni statuettes.

ates. Lit:"those who make sure the Jo is

Jodenw:category of Jo initiates,"children of Jo".

well done." These Jo members are named

ancestors,this knowledge is said to have

Jojeli: herald of Jo.

after the musical instruments they play,

been "dried down"through generations of

Jonburufiye:"slave hornblowers",group of initi-

form. Handed down to the living from the

hollow wooden cylinders of varying sizes

experimentation to leave the cogow,the

ates who play an orchestra of wooden

with a central slit flanked by grooves

"ways" which the present generations use


which are scraped with a stick.The

jeli(w): griots. Social class of bards, heralds, praise

Jonyeleni: wooden figure sculptures of Jo.

Kenyenw make use of Nyeleni sculptures to

singers and oral historians.The Jeliw are

Nyeleni means "little Nyele"(name of a

increase the amount of gifts they receive

part of the nyamakalaw.

first-born daughter),or "little pretty one,"

from their audiences.

Aden (Dyide): association that includes both men and women and features spirit possession. Jinniyya: hauntingly beautiful female spirits that

suggesting the sculpture's role as an orna-

kilissi: incantation

ment or embellishment to enhance the

Koblen:"red things," obstacles,difficulties and

ritual performance (K. Ezra).

violent events of life.

pervade dreams.They have flowing hair so

Representations of woman in the time of

kolo koro:ancestor, lit:"ancient bone."

long that it simply does not end.

the first origination of Jo. Materialization

Kama:deity, men's power association and mas-

jiridon:the science of the trees. Herbalist medicine.

of the soul of the female entity at the ori-

querades.Considered a major source of

gin of the initiation practices which orga-

solidity and strength in community life,the

nize the society and maintain social order

Kama,led by blacksmiths, has been report-

tion associations, brotherhoods, religious

(S. Male).The sculptures are carried by

ed as being involved in every important

jot generic term for"power associations," initiaassociations,or secret societies.The name

Jodenw as they sing and dance,or placed

Jo also designates a religious complex spe-

on the ground near the dance area.

Komodenw:initiates,"children of the Komi"

cific to a particular area and that tends to

Josinyena:the"eve olio," rite marking the start

Kamokun: headdress of the Kama association.

subsume all the other associations. In the

of application of Jo prescriptions

affair of a man's life.

They unite animal motifs and organic

first sense,jow refer to institutions like the

Jotigi:chief or"owner"of the Jo cult.

materials into a spectacular creature that

Ntomo(or Ndomo),Kama (or Kama),

Jula: a group scattered in Mali and neighboring

includes bird, hyena,crocodile,antelope,

Nyagwan,Noma,Kore and others,that

countries.They are traders and speak a

and more (Jespers 1995; McNaughton

functioned as regulators and protectors of

lingua franca very close to the Bambara.

1979).Their creations represent the con-

the community,and as intermediaries

ka sujo:to purify the dead.

summation of large numbers of secret

between the temporal and spiritual

k'a ye: imaginary characters.

recipes (daliluw). They are subsequently


Kaarta: a region and a Bamana Kingdom (1670-

Jo Blaw:group of young boys and girls not yet circumcised or excised that will be initiated to the Jo in the following septennial ritual.

which grow across the surface of the head-

northwest Mali.

dresses, making them progressively more

kalani: long pole from which are hung small

Jo cew:category of initiates,"men of./o."

packets containing ingredients of unfin-

Jo doo:"entry oflo," admission ritual to the Jo

ished boliw(Zahan 1960: plate XXI).


nourished with sacrifice,the residues of

1854), rival to the kingdom of Segou,in

kalwa:spiritual seclusion (from khalwa in Arabic).

awesome to behold and more potent to engage. They become ripe with nyama. Komosuruku:the headdress-dancer's herald, who acts like a Mande bard,translating for the assembled members the disguised

Jofaga or Jo Faa:Jo killing. Initiation of the boys entering into the elephant house of the Jo.

kamalen ton:village youth association.

Jojell: herald, historian of Jo.

kamalen waati:the time of youth.

Jo kalan: apprenticeship phase of Jo knowledge.

kamalen: young men

armament in the form of korotew

Jo ko don:the day of the Jo affair.

kamalen-baw:vigorous men

(poisons).They also know how to assemble

Jo mooni or Jomaganiw:Jo statuettes kept in the lora bugu;following Salia Male, material

Kamiw:guinea-fowl,group of Ntomo initiates.

representations of theft)adept's soul. Jo samaw:"elephants of the Jo", masters of the Jo initiation. Jo shanw:ritual function; lit:"cultivators of the ideas of Jo."

kana(w): horns containing medicine.

tonal utterances of the masquerader. Komotigi: leaders of Komo, who possess ample

boliw. Konikunw:crest worn by Nkenyew,Jo initiates;

kanyenkwo or kanyenko: rite,"washing the dirt"

commissioned from blacksmiths,they are

is the final phase of initiation into Jo.

attached to fiber caps or wigs which the

ke tat prescription,"thing to do". Kenedugu: a traditional area in southern Mali and a Jula kingdom created in Senufo

1 244


initiates make themselves.They are decorated with fiber fringes, beads,seeds,and porcupine quills.

Kano:deity, men's power association, masquerade. ?Canon barajugu:"nasty gourd of the birds, nasty stomachs." Sacred object (boll) of the Jo. Konow:birds,group of Ntomo initiates konyo muso:the new bride who they referred to

heartland. b) region located in what is now

of Jo,the "sacrifice to noonfri"(noonfri son)

southern Mali and northeastern Guinea,

which precedesjam sacrifice during the

between the Sankarani and Milo Rivers

beginning of the rainy season.It involves

that flow northward into the Niger.

the communal and individual sacrifices to

mango(manko): musical instrument.Gong made from a half-closed metal plate,end-

sarcastically as"the wife whose mosquito

ing with a handle curved to the convex

net has no holes."

side and by which the player holds the

Kore: men's power association, masquerades;

instrument,which he strikes with a hard

Kore prepares senior men for death and

baton.These gongs are used in the Jo, Ko4

continued life with the spiritual principles

and Nya societies.

nanfiri's ritual object,called Namankoro (not to be confused with the Namakoro cult). Ndomodyiri: mythical blacksmith and "man par excellence," who represents the ideas of "fixity,"dwelling,""custom," and "norm." nege bugo:trimming of the metal,"iron strik-

that govern the world,through rich knowl-

Mansa Sulayman: King of Mali (1341-1360).

edge,complex and often strongly sarcastic

mansa(w):early Malian ruler(s).

negebugofolk "music of iron striking iron."

performances,and contemplation.

marabout: holy man,scholar of Islam.

ngo: plant; red and white broad-beans

Rainmaking ritual.

Mari:spirit of the water.

Koredubaw or Koreclugaw or Korejugaw:group of

Marka:considered of Soninke origin,the Marka


(Canavalia ensiformis) Ngolo-muso:girl friend in childhood.

Ko4 initiates, ritual buffoons,"vultures of

are spread throughout the south of Niger.

ngon,nkon or nkoo: male monkey (in general).

the Kore."

City-dwellers,involved in commerce and

ngonso or ngusun: pangolin

korondon:to bellow

Islamized,they have nonetheless adopted

nienti:a type of vessel commonly used to steam

korote(w): poison(s)designed to harm or kill peo-

the Bambara language and a number of

ple. A korote can be sent from distance or directly applied. Koteba: popular dance and theater organized by the youth association (tonw). As the Koteba often satirize unpleasant aspects of social life, it was repressed by the government under the presidencies of Modibo Keita and Moussa Traore.

Bamana habits and customs. masiriw:visual ornaments embellishing for

play, hollow wood cylinders of varying sizes

headdress,and several forms of masks and

with a central slit flanked by grooves which

heads of the Jo and Gwan societies.

are scraped with a stick.The Nkenyew

Massassi: clan issued from Massa,founder of the Bamana Kingdom of Kaarta. Minyanka,Minianka or Mianka: group named by the French colonizers (they call themselves

kulukutu: big gourd.

Bamana).They live in the Cercles of San,

mask(s). kungo: bush laada:customs(from Arabic) lahara:the other world or heaven which may

blood,and the process of breast feeding are fundamental to the production of a child as a human being. moan!: puppet,sculpture

tion societies(low).

vous word play accompanied by flutes and

mori(w): Holy Men,Muslim clerics or marabouts.

drums. Uses Nyeleni sculptures in their performance. Ntomo(or Ndomo): uncircumcised boys'associa-

musojow: women's power associations.

tion, masquerades. Prepares boys for man-

muso nyuman:a morally good woman who fos-

hood,circumcision, marriage,and mem-

tered unity in the household and is free of

bership in Ko4 and Korn&

any suspicion of sorcery.

Ntomo bo:the Ntomo(mask)"comes

Nama:deity, men's power associations,and masquerades. Namakolonikun or Namakoronikun:"little hyena head," mask.Sometimes written Naman koro kun.The same name refers to very

Malinke,Malinke,Mandinka or Maninka: popu-

different masks.

lation speaking the Manding language

Namakoro:deity, men's power associations,cult,

which extends roughly from Bamako to

and masquerades.Sometimes distinct

the forest. They are descendents of the

performances of song,dance,and mischie-

Minyankala:lit,the place of the Minyanka.

makiri: pity

the sources of the Niger and the edge of

key."Sacred object of the Jo. Noonfri:ritual function,see nanfri.

Mpeku: plant, Lannea acida,

belief that breast milk,as transformed

audiences. nko barajan:the"big gourd of the male mon-

Ntokofa: a Jo group characterized by comedic

with the same meaning.

maa or maga:a human being.The Bamana

the amount of gifts they receive from their

Koutiala and Yorosso,speak a Senufo

Moriba: marabout, but also a first name.

the primordial void.

make use of Nyeleni sculptures to increase

dialect but have the main Bamana initia-

well derive from al-akhira,an Arabic term lankolo or laloko:the nature or the entropy of

named after the musical instruments they

instance the Ntomo head,the Ci-wara

Kote-tion:theater,rhythm of the Koteba. kun(w):"head(s)" in the Western sense of

couscous. Nkenye(w)or Kenye(w):Jo group members

from Nama,sometimes not. Nanfiri or Noonfri:one of the prominent leaders

forth." Ntomo kun: lit. Ntomo head. Ntomo mask. ntoriw:toads,group of Ntomo initiates. ntrolen: male lizard, but also sacred object of the Jo. ntrolen son:"offering to ntrolen," carried out by young (still uncircumcised) boys. numu Jo:the performance group of blacksmiths, the only nyamakalaw admitted into Jo,is considered among the most entertaining

famous Mali Empire, but the rural masses

of the Jo society. He escorts the initiates

and successful.They wear costumes of

became Islamized only belatedly.

and corrects their behavior. He is also the

woven cotton rather than fibers.

Mande:a) people recognizing the Mande as their

central figure in one of the annual rituals



numu(w): blacksmith(s) and potter(s). In numu


families,the men(numukew)are black-

passa(w): praises

smiths and the women (numumusow)pot-

Ramadhan:the month-long fast

ters.The blacksmiths are the most promi-

Soma doo:"entry into the sama,"the initiation to

nent of Bamana artists, as they carved masks and collaborated in the making of all the boliw. Nya Gwan (or Nyagwan):female society considered by some Mande to be just a group of dangerous women sorcerers, but by others to be the women's counterpart to Komi), with great power for fighting anti-social sorcery(McNaughton 1979:1988).

the Soma(elephant)cult in the Jo context. Sama or Soma bon:"elephant house," in the Jo cult,a temporary construction of plaited straw, plastered walls,and with a carved wooden elephant head above its entrance. Samace kun:the"head of the male elephant". Sacred object (boll) of the Jo. saraka:Islamic act of alms-giving (from the Arabic,sadaqa),and Bamana offering.

pora after the decline of the Ghana Empire. Son-min-te-ma-na:"The Character that a person does not have," name of an antelope puppet. suden: mirliton,lit."dead child."Instrument made from a millet stalk with its pulp hollowed-out. Sulaw: monkeys(Colobus Satanas),group of Kari initiates. Sunjata Keita:founder of the Mali Empire who ruled from 1230 to 1260.After a handicapped childhood and a period in exile with his mother, he returned to liber-

Sarakole: see Soninke.

ate the Mande from the domination of

frightening of all the low, male or female.

sarama: beloved

Sumangoro Kante,king of Soso. Following

Its members are very old women,and

Segou (Segu):city and region in south-central

this conquest,Sunjata established a strong

Nyakuruni(or Nyakuuni):the most secretive and

young widows whose negative strength (tern) has killed their husbands.These

Mali. senankuya,sanankuya or sinankunya:cathartic

monarchy,incorporating the Ghana Empire and controlling the gold mines.

covenant implying joking relationship

Surukuw: hyenas,group of Kore and Jo initiates.

pestles,singing songs and hitting the pes-

between certain clans or groups.

Suu:the dead. Also name of a class of initiates in

tles.Their nudity unleashes immense levels

Senufo:the term Senufo designates (for the

women are said to parade naked around

of dangerous nyama.People leave gifts of

Bambara and Malinke)those people who

the Jo cult composed from members of the oldest group of the seven-yearly contin-

millet in calabashes for them,and many

speak senu ou siena. Having a strong

seek their blessings, but no one is ever real-

degree of regional diversity,they occupy

ly sure if a Nyakuruni branch is fighting

the southeast of Mali and the north of

Tabaski:the great Muslim sacrifice.

anti-social sorcery,or practicing it.

Ivory Coast.

tab: magic device,a series of knots on a string,

nyama:energy or life force,energy that animates the universe(McNaughton 1988),

gent. suya or subagaya:sorcery.

shan banfula:sacred bonnet in the Jo cult.

each corresponding to an incantation (kills-

shan tama:spear, ritual insignia.


energy of action (Bird, Koita and

Shianro or Saro: city and region east of Segou.

talibe:student of a Muslim marabout.

Soumaouro 1974:vii-ix). Often described by

Si: karite(Butyrospermum Parkii), plant,fruit and


Mande as dreadful, dangerous,and nega-


tIon-missen: amusement portions of the play

tive,the nyama can be turned positive

sigi: bush buffalo

through knowledge and expertise. Briefly

siri(w):"knotted"talismans made from magic or

stated,the world is known through jiridon,

religious components.One also says that

"the science of the trees." With it, experts

the siriw "attach"(the enemy).

event. tog& name or reputation ton(w):youth associations.The tonw had considerable social and economic weight.These

can make daliluw, recipes by which sEbenw

sofaw: horsemen,warriors with horses.

groups are in many ways dependent upon

(amulets)and basiw(power objects) are

Sogo bo: lit, animals come forth. Masquerade

elders and chiefs, but also are quite capa-

made.These objects harness nyama,to work in the world on behalf of the users.

(see Arnoldi's essay). sogofin:dark and powerful animals.

ble of operating independently and even in

sogoje: clear and less nyama-laden animals.

defiance of established political authority. Touna: city, south ofSegou.

that used to be affiliated to powerful

Sokolo:city, north of Segou.

tulon: play

horon families.They include the bards,the

soma(w)or sotigi(w):"masters of the horse,"

Wagadu (or Ghana,5th century-1o76):first of

nyamakalaw:specialized professional groups

blacksmiths and potters,and the leather

anotherk group,sometimes called ritual

sub-Saharan states; population Soninke.

workers.They monopolize the production

buffoons, distinguished by the wooden

Wagadu traded with North Africa. Capital

of extremely important material and cul-

horses they "ride" during their

probably Kumbi-Saleh in the rith century.

tural products and are able to manipulate


Wagadu controled the trade of salt from

a powerful energy(nyama)that operates

soma(w): Bamana priest(s)

the desert and that of gold from Galam

beneath the visible surface of the world to

Soninke or Sarakole: inhabitants of the north-

and Bambouk.Association between Arab-

western Mali,Cercles of Kayes,Yelimane,

Berber and Soninke merchants.The empire

give it structure and make it work.

Nioro and Nara. From the fifth century

was probably pillaged by the Almoravides

Nyeleni: see Jonyeleni.

until 1076,they were organized in a state

in 1076,though this remains unproven,and


known as Wagadu or Ghana.They were the first Mande people to become acquainted with Islam.The Sarakole underwent a dias-

the Soninke clans dispersed across western

nye ye&"opening the eyes"

Nyerezye: uncircumcised boys'io in Bendugu. nyin:good



Waraw: mythical or divine(but dangerous) wildcats that are supposed to visit the world of the dead. Wasolon (or Wasulu): region of southwestern Mali adjacent to Guinea.Cercles of Yanfolila, Kolondieba,and partially Bougouni.The population is a mixture of Fula and Bamana. wu/uw:dogs,group of Ntomo initiates. yaala:walk,wandering yid bi wooyo:the cheering tree. Every village has a large shade tree under which people regularly gather in the heat of the day to talk and exchange news. yukurii:the"striking of iron"(negebugo) is still practiced in Beleko and other villages of Baninko,Cercle of Dioila.



CATALOG U E Museum for African Art Exhibition(MAA)â&#x20AC;˘ Museum Rietberg Zurich Exhibition (MRZ) CAT.1 Hunter's shirt with amulets Fabric, leather, mirror,animal horn. L.132 CM.

Barbara and Wayne Amedee(MM) CAT.2 Maani puppet Wood,beads,fabric,fibers. H.56 Private Collection(MM) CAT.3 Lance with female figure Koulikoro region Iron. H.161 cm. Musee du Quai Branly, Paris Publ. Brincard 1982:86; Rubin 1984: 497; Leloup 2000:64 (MRZ) CAT.4 Lance with female figure Koulikoro region Iron. H.17o cm. Private Collection(MM) CAT.5 Ritual staff with female figure and phallic symbol Koulikoro or Sikasso region Iron. H.51.4 CM. Walt Disney - Tishman African Art Collection,inv.1984.AF.o51.cm. Publ: Vogel 1981:28(MM) CAT.6 Spear with male figure holding sword Koulikoro region Iron. H.132 C111.

Mr.and Mrs. Edward Renwick (MM) CAT.7 Ritual staff with female figure Sikasso region Iron. H.148 cm. Private Collection publ. Brincard,1982:86;Leloup 2000:37(MRZ)

CAT.10 Figure Sikasso region Iron. H.lo cm Private Collection(MRZ)

CAT.20 Equestrian figure Segou region Wood. H.61 cm Musee de l'Homme,Paris, Inv. Nr. MH 33.57.3 (MRZ)

CAT.ii Ritual staff with equestrian figure Central Bamana region Iron. H.133 cm Private Collection Publ. Leuzinger 1970:48(MRZ) CAT.12 Ritual staff with equestrian figure Koulikoro region Iron. H.86 cm. Ana and Carlo Bella(MM) CAT.13 Equestrian figure Central Bamana region Iron. H.27 CM Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.14 Ritual staff with equestrian figure Koulikoro region Iron. H.86.7 cm. The Menil Collection, Houston,inv. CA 6063(MM) CAT.15 Staff with equestrian figure Sikasso region Iron. H.52 cm. Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass (MM) CAT.i6 Equestrian figure Central Bamana region Iron. H. 20.3 CM. Private Collection (MM) CAT.17 Equestrian figure Central Bamana region Iron. H.23 CM Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.8 Figure San region Iron. H.17 cm. Private Collection(MRZ)

CAT.18 Bows Metal. L. 30.5 and 24 cm. Ana and Carlo Bella(MM)

CAT.9 Female figure Sikasso region Iron. H.12.5 011. Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.19 Equestrian figure Segou region Wood. H.56 cm Museum Rietberg Zurich, Inv. Nr. RAF 214 Publ. La Chaux de Fonds 1971:380; Bassani 1978:227(MRZ)

CAT.21 Staff with female figure:solima bere Koulikoro region Wood,leather, berads,string. H.31.3 cm.(figure detail) Rita and John Grunwald Collection (MM) CAT.22 Staff with female figure:solima bere Koulikoro region Wood . H.118 cm. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.23a, b Staff figures Wood. H. 28.5 to 30.5 Michael and Joan Salke, Naples, FL (MM) CAT.24 Staff figure Wood.H.28 CM. Jack Faxon(MM) CAT.25 Door with lock Central Bamana region Wood,iron. H.156 cm. Collection B. and U.Gottschalk, Dusseldorf(MM) CAT.26 Doorlock in the form of a crocodile Koulikoro region Wood,iron. H.44.5 cm. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.27 Doorlock in the form of a crocodile Koulikoro region Wood.H.40.5 cm. Private Collection(MM) CAT.28 Doorlock Bamako region Wood,iron. H.37.5 CM. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.29 Doorlock Central Bamana region Wood,iron. H.38 cm. Private Collection (MRZ)


CAT.30 Doorlock Central Bamana region Wood,iron. H.51 cm. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.31 Doorlock Central Bamana region Wood,iron. H.37 cm. Private Collection, Paris(MRZ) CAT.32 Doorlock Central Bamana region Wood,iron. H.45 cm. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.33 Figural doorlock Central Bamana region Wood,iron. H.46 cm. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.34 Figural doorlock Central Bamana region Wood,iron. H.43 cm. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.35 Doorlock Central Bamana region Wood,iron. H.31.5 CM. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.36 Doorlock Central Bamana region Wood.H.35.5 CM. Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass (MAA) CAT.37 Doorlock Koulikoro region Wood,iron. H.45 cm. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.38 Doorlock Koulikoro region Wood,iron. H.46 cm. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.39 Doorlock Koulikoro region Wood,iron. H.23 CM. Private Collection(MRZ)

CAT.40 Doorlock Segou region Wood.H.42 CM. Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass (MAA)

CAT.50 Ritual object with anthropomorphic head Koulikoro or Sikasso region Wood .H.53 CM. Max Itzikovitz(MRZ)

CAT.41 Doorlock Sikasso region Wood.H.35.5 CM. Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass (MM)

CAT.51 Ritual vessel with squatted figure Segou region Wood. H.38 cm. Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass Formerly Harold Rome(MM)

CAT.42 Stool Segou region Wood.H.29 CM. Private Collection(MM)

CAT.52 Heddle pulley Segou region Wood. H.25.5 011. Drs. Noble and Jean Endicott (MM)

CAT.43 Stool Central Bamana region Wood. H.44.5 Cr11. Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass (MM)

CAT.53 Heddle pulley Segou region Wood . H.25.5 CM. Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.44 Stool Mopti region Wood. L. 58.5 CM. Roy and Sophia Sieber(MM)

CAT.54 Heddle pulley Sikasso region Wood . H.24 cm. Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.45 Vessel Koulikoro region Ceramic,glaze. D.50.8 cm. Simmons Collection(MM)

CAT.55 Textile: bogolanfini Beledugu region Cotton with mineral and vegetal dyes. L.154 cm. Museum der Kulturen Basel, Inv. Nr. III 3165 Collected in 1908 by Leo Frobenius (MRZ)

CAT.46 Vessel Koulikoro region Ceramic,glaze. D.48 cm. Simmons Collection(MM) CAT.47 Vessel Koulikoro region Ceramic. H.49.5 cm. New Orleans Museum of Art:The Robert P. Gordy Collection Publ. Fagaly 1989:33(MM) CAT.48 Figural grip Segou region Wood. L. 5.5 Cm. Private Collection(MRZ) CAI 49 Knife with figural head Segou-Saro region Wood,iron. H.33 cm . Private Collection (MRZ)

Publ. Leiris und Delange1967:69; Vogel and N'Diaye 1985:21; Leuzinger 1985:11; Bassani 1989, 235(MRZ) CAT.59 Sogo puppet representing an antelope Bani region Wood,metal,embossed sheeting, cloth,string. H.237.6 CM. Fa rid Tawa. Publ. Roberts 1995:104(MM) CAT.6o Sogo puppet representing a ram Bozo from Segou region Wood,metal,fabric. H.25.4 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Donated by Noble A. Endicott,1975 (MRZ) CAT.61 Sogo mask representing a lion: Waraba Segou region Wood,and pigments. H.54 cm. Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.56 Textile: bogolanfini Beledugu region Cotton with mineral and vegetal dyes. L.123 CM. Museum der Kulturen Basel,Inv. Nr. III 8034 Collected in 1933 by Paul Wirz (MRZ) CAT.57 Textile: bogolanfini Beledugu region Cotton with mineral and vegetal dyes. L.1.44 cm. Etnografisch Museum Antwerpen Collected in 1934 by Frans M.Olbrechts(MM) CAT.58 Sogo puppet representing a solitary buffalo:Sigi dankele Bani region Wood,metal. H.81.5 cm. Musee de l'Homme,Inv. Nr. 59.31.310

CAT.62 Maani puppet Segou region Wood,fiber, pigment, mastic, metal,thread. H.27.9 cm.(figure detail) Rita and John Grunwald Collection (MM) CAT.63 Merekun puppet representing a female character Segou region Wood. H.8o cm. Richard and Penny Watson(MM) CAT.64 Merekun puppet representing a male character Segou region Wood,iron, pigment. H.100 cm. Richard and Penny Watson(MM) CAT.65 Merekun puppet representing a male Segou region Wood . H.54 cm. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.66 Merekun puppet representing a female character Segou region Wood,iron. H.84 cm. Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.67 Maani puppets Segou region Wood, paint,fabric, hair,fiber. H.45.5 cm. Private Collection (MM) CAT.68 Merekun puppet with janus head Segou region Wood,raffia,fabric,iron. H.94 cm. Museum der Kulturen Basel Publ. Gardi 1988:55(MRZ) CAT.69 Maani puppet Segou region Wood,iron,fabric,fiber, pigment. H.91.4 CM. Richard and Penny Watson(MM) CAT.70 Maani group of puppets Segou region Wood,iron,fabric, paint,feathers. H.56 cm. Jan Katz Publ. Davis 1981:51(MM) CAT.71 Maani group of puppets Segou region Wood, paint,fabric, metal,fur,iron. L.134.5 cm. Private Collection(MM) CAT.72 Ntomo mask Koulikoro region Wood,cowrie shells,seeds. H.29 CM. Private Collection(MM) CAT.73 Ntomo mask Koulikoro region Wood .H.38.5 cm. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.74 Ntomo mask Segou region Wood,cowrie shells. H.29.5 CM. Private Collection, Paris Formerly R. Rasmussen (MRZ) CAT.75 Ntomo mask Segou region Wood,iron, brass. H.5o cm. Private Collection(MM) CAT.76 Ntomo mask Segou region Wood .H.35 CM. Private Collection (MRZ)


CAT.77 Ntomo mask Segou region Wood,string. H.31.5 cm. Maureen Zarember,Tambaran Gallery(MAA) CAT.78 Ntomo mask Sikasso region Wood,cowrie shells, string. H.38 cm. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.79 Ntomo mask Segou region Wood,cowrie shells,seeds. H.35.5 CM. Charles and Kent Davis(MM) CAT.8o Ntomo mask Central Bamana region Wood .H.40.5 cm Private Collection Former Collection Charles Ratton (MRZ) CAT.Eti Ntomo mask Segou region Wood,cowrie shells. H.65 cm. Private Collection, Belgium(MM) CAT.82 Ntomo mask Segou region Wood,iron. H.72 CM. Musee de l'Homme,Paris, Inv. Nr. 06.3.27 Donated by Louis Desplagnes 1906 Publ.Sydow 1954:107; Bassani 1978:185(MRZ) CAT.83 Monkey mask:Ngon or Sula Koulikoro region Wood .H.27 CM. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.84 Kore monkey mask:Sula Nossombougou Wood,metal. H.31 cm. Museum fur Volkerkunde Munchen,Inv. Nr. 33.4.2 Acquired in 1933 from Karl Kjersmeier Publ. Kecskesi 1999:182(MRZ) CAT.85 Monkey mask: Ngon Nossombougou Wood,fiber. H.50.8 cm. Jerome and Ellen Stern(MM)

CAT.86 Monkey mask: Ngon Koulikoro region Wood,metal. H.49.5 cm. Private Collection(MM)

CAT.96 Karè lion mask: Woraba cu./aro Segou region Wood,pigment. H.48.5 cm Private Collection Publ. Leiris/Delange 1967:310(MRZ)

CAT.87 Monkey mask: Ngon Koulikoro region Wood . H.53 cm. Private Collection Publ. Leloup 2000:16(MM)

CAT.97 Kore lion mask: Waraba or lora Segou region Wood,pigment. H.46.5 cm. Private Collection(MM)

CAT.88 Kore monkey mask:Sula Koulikoro region Wood . H.25 cm. Civiche Raccolta d'Arte Applicata, Castello Sforzesco, Milano Publ. Rubin 1984:295(MRZ)

CAT.98 Kore hyena mask:Suruku Malinke peoples Wood. H.42 CM. Musee de l'Homme,Paris, Inv. 54.19.01 Donated Pierre Verite 1954(MRZ)

CAT.89 Monkey mask:Ngon Unknown region Wood . H.50.8 cm. Drs. Marc and Shirley Feldman (MM)

CAT.99 Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro or Sikasso region Wood. H.6o cm. Henau Collection(MM)

CAT.90 Kori mask Marka peoples,Eastern Segou region, Wood,copper,indigo. H.3o cm. Richard Faletti Family Collection Publ.: Nooter Roberts & Roberts 1998:55(MM) CAT.91 Mask Koulikoro region Wood,iron. H.3o cm. Private Collection,Paris Formerly Collection Helena Rubinstein (MRZ) CAT.92 Monkey mask:Ngon or Sula Koulikoro region Wood .H.26.5 cm. Private Collection Formerly Pierre Harter(MRZ) CAT.93 Kore mask Marka peoples from the San region Wood and metal. H.31.5 cm. Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass Formerly R. Rasmussen(MM) CAT.94 Kore mask Marka peoples from the San region Wood,iron, brass. H.31 cm. Private Collection,Paris(MRZ) CAT.95 Kore mask Marka from the San region Wood .H.3o cm. Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.roo Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood .H.42 CM. Private Collection Publ. Leloup 2000:27(MRZ) CAT.101 Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood. H.45.7 CM. The Menil Collection, Houston, inv.73-05 DJ(MM) CAT.102 Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood. H.30.5 CM. Drew and Jeanne Wolfson(MM) CAT.103 Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood,fiber,cowrie shells. H.42 cm. Thomas Alexander and Laura Rogers(MM) CAT.104 Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood .H.41 CM. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.105 Kore hyena mask:Suruku Sikasso region Wood .H.46 cm. Max ltzikovitz Formerly Collection Tristan Tzara (MRZ)

I 250


CAT.io6 Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koulikoro region Wood. H.46 cm. Henau Collection(MM) CAT.107 Kore hyena mask:Suruku Sikasso region Wood .H.51.4 CM. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 publ. Goldwater 1960:32(MRZ) CAT.io8 Kore hyena double mask:Suruku Sikasso region Wood,thread, metal. H.55 cm. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.109 Kore hyena double mask:Suruku Sikasso region Wood,animal hair, metal. H.53 cm. Maureen Zarember — Private Collection(MM) CAT.110 Kore hyena mask:Suruku Koutiala region Wood. H.52 cm. Private Collection(MM) CAT.iii Mask Bamana or Mandinka peoples Wood, metal,cowrie shells. H.54.5 CM. Private Collection Publ. Fagg/Plass 1964:152; Leuzinger 1985, Leuzinger 1970: Fig.7 (MRZ) CAT.112 Mask Bamana or Mandinka peoples Wood,metal. H.63.5 cm. Mark Groudine and Cynthia Putnam (MM) CAT.113 Kore horse mask:Sokun Koulikoro region Wood .H.43.5 CM. The Metropolitan Museum of Art The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 Publ. Goldwater 1960:32(MRZ)

CAT.114 Hobby horse:Koredugaso Koulikoro region Wood . H.46.5 cm. Museum Rietberg Zurich,Inv. Nr. RAF 213 Former Collection Han Coray(MRZ) CAT.115 Hobby horse:Koredugaso Koulikoro region Wood,iron, brass,cotton string. H. 72 CM.

Museum fur Volkerkunde Munchen,Inv. Nr.82.301 621 Publ. Kecskesi 1982:27 f.(MRZ) CAT.116 Hobby horse:Koredugaso Koulikoro region Wood . H.36.2 cm. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.117 Hobby horse: Koredugaso Koulikoro region Wood .H.39 cm. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.ii8 Hobby horse: Koredugaso Koulikoro region Wood . H.37.5 Private Collection Publ. Leloup 2000:29(MRZ) CAT.119 Hobby horse:Koredugaso Koulikoro region Wood.H.3o cm. Private Collection(MAA) CAT.120 Hobby horse: Koredugaso Koulikoro region Wood .H.36.5 cm. New Orleans Museum of Art, Bequest of Victor K. Kiam (MAA) CAT.121 Mother and child:Jomooni or Gwandusu Bougouni or DioIla region Wood. H.118.1 cm. Private Collection Publ.Sieber and Walker 1987:36; Preston 1985:31(MAA) CAT.122 Mother and child:Jomooni or Gwandusu Koulikoro region Wood .H.91 Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.123 Female figure Bougouni or DioIla region Wood .H.135 CM. Private Collection Publ. Leuzinger 1970: Abb. B 3; Leuzinger 1985: Abb.13a; Leloup 2000:83(MRZ)

CAT.131 Female figure:Jonyeleni Central Bamana region Wood,string,iron,cowrie shell. H.61 cm. New Orleans Museum of Art, Bequest of Victor K. Kiam. Publ. Fagaly 1983: 28(MAA)

CAT.124 Male figure Bougouni or Dioila region Wood .H.110 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller. Inv. Nr. 1979.206.132 Publ. Goldwater 1960:54; Ezra 1986:31(MRZ)

CAT.132 Female figure:Jonyeleni Sikasso region Wood,string,fabric, beads. H.62 cm. Musk de l'Homme,Inv. 35.16.1, Donated by Georges Henri Riviere 1935 Publ. Goldwater 1960:49;Vogel und N'Diaye 1985:120(MRZ)

CAT.125 Mother and child:Jomooni or Gwandusu? Bougouni or DioIla region. Dated 1432-1644 AD Wood. H.96.5 cm. James Willis(MAA) CAT.126 Female figure Bougouni or DioIla region Wood.H.94 cm. Walt Disney - Tishman African Art Collection,inv.1984.AF.051.olo. Pub!: Vogel 1981:27(MAA) CAT.127 Male figure Bougouni or DioIla region Wood,metal. H.69 cm. Laura and James J. Ross. Pub!. Robbins and Nooter 1989:82 (MAA) CAT.128 Staff with anthropomorphic head and bundle Koulikoro region Wood,fiber, pigment, power substances. H.6o cm. William Watson (MAA) CAT.129 Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or DioIla region Wood,beads,fiber. H.51 cm. The Detroit Institute of Arts, Bequest of Robert H.Tannahill (MAA) CAT.13o Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or DioIla region Wood .H.61 cm. Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.133 Female figure:Jonyeleni Central Bamana region Wood . H.71 CM. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.134 Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni region Wood,fabric,string, beads. H.74 CM. Private Collection Publ. Leiris und Delarlge,1967: 227 (MRZ) CAT.135 Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or Didila region Wood,metal. H.43 cm. Private Collection Publ. Leloup 2000:71(MRZ)

CAT.140 Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or DioIla region Wood.H.45.5 CM. Maureen Zarember,Tambaran Gallery(MAA) CAT.141 Female figure:Jonyeleni Segou-Saro region, probably dating from 1920-1930. Wood. H.42 cm. Private Collection, Montreal(MAA) CAT.142 Female figure:Jonyeleni Segou-Saro region,probably dating from 1920-1930. Wood, metal,glass beads. H.52 cm. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.143 Female figure:Jonyeleni Segou-Saro region Wood,metal. H.57 cm. Metropolitan Museum,Inv. Nr. 1978.412.347 (MRZ) CAT.144 Female figure:Jonyeleni Segou-Saro region Wood,metal,glass beads. H.53.3 The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology,in AFF5365(MAA) CAT.145 Female figure:Jonyeleni Mande region Wood. H.56 cm. Robert Jacobs Collection (MAA)

CAT.136 Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or DioIla region Wood,metal. H.49.5 CM. Robert Jacobs Collection (MAA)

CAT.137 Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or DioIla region Wood,metal, beads. H.34 cm. Max Itzikovitz(MRZ) CAT.138 Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or DioIla region Wood. H.45 cm. Henau Collection(MAA)

CAT.146 Female figure:lirimooni Mande region Wood,cowrie shells,seeds. H.81 Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.147 Female figure:Jonyeleni Baninko region Wood .H.31 CM. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.148 Female figure:Jonyeleni Baninko region Wood .H.24 cm. Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.139 Female figure:Jonyeleni Bougouni or DioIla region Wood . H.34 cm. Musk de l'Homme,Inv.982.49.1 (MRZ)

CAT.149 Female figure:Jonyeleni Baninko region Wood. H.51 cm. Henau Collection (MAA)



CAT.150 Crest mask:Sogonikun Koulikoro region Wood. H.17.5 CM. Jim and Ann Christensen(MAA) CAT.151 Crest mask:Konikun Bougouni or Dioila region Wood.H.17.8 CM. Jerome and Ellen Stern(MAA) CAT.152 Crest mask Sikasso region Wood,animal hair,cloth,string, iron. H.65 cm. New Orleans Museum of Art, Bequest of Victor K. Kiam (MAA) CAT.153 Jo or Kama trumpet Koulikoro region Wood.H.45 cm. Max Itzikovitz(MRZ) CAT.154 Jo or Kama trumpet Sikasso region Wood,metal. L.82 cm. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.155 Jo or Kama trumpet Sikasso region Wood, metal,leather. L.84 cm. Henau Collection(MAA)

CAT.i6 Jo or Kama trumpet Koulikoro region Metal. L.58 cm. Susan and Richard Ulevitch. Publ. Leloup 2000(13):38(MAA) CAT.157 Jo or Kama trumpet Koulikoro region Metal. L.66 cm. Barbara and Wayne Amedee(MAA) CAT.158 Jo horn Senufo region Iron,leather,fibers. L.86 cm. Charles and Kent Davis(MAA) CAT.159 Komi, helmet mask: Warakun Koulikoro region Wood,antelope horn, pig hairs, feathers. L.74 cm. Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.16o Kama helmet mask: Warakun Koulikoro region Wood,antelope horn. L. 51 cm. Museum der Kulturen Basel INV. NR. III 23781(MRZ) CAT.16i Komi, helmet mask: Warakun Koulikoro region Wood,animal fur, horns, porcupine quills, mirror. H.76 cm. New Orleans Museum of Art,Gift of Kent and Charles Davis(MAA) CAT.162 Kama helmet mask: Warakun Koulikoro region Wood,antelope horn. H.45 cm. Museum Rietberg Zurich,Inv. Nr. RAF 207 Collection. Eduard von der Heydt (MRZ) CAT.163 Kama helmet mask: Warakun Wood,animal horns, pig hairs, fiber,fur. H.50.8 cm. Private Collection (MAA) CAT.164 Kama helmet mask: Warakun Wood,animal horns, pig hairs, fiber, pigment. H.38 cm. Private Collection (MAA) CAT.165 Kama helmet mask: Warakun Koulikoro region Wood,animal horns,leather,fur, fiber, pig hairs. L. 68.5 cm. William and Riva Harper(MAA) CAT.166 Kona helmet mask Segou region Wood .H.48 cm. Private Collection Publ. Rubin 1984:571; Bassani 1989: 234(MRZ) CAT.167 Kano mask Koutiala region Wood. H.114.5 cm. Dr. Marshall and Caroline Mount (MAA) CAT.168 Kona mask Minianka,Koutiala region Wood.H.106.5 cm. Roy and Sophia Sieber(MAA)

CAT.170 Kona mask Minianka,Koutiala region Wood. H.112 CM. Private Collection (MRZ)

CAT.177 Cow mask with figure: mishi Bougouni region Wood . H.57 Private Collection(MRZ)

CAT.17i Kona zoomorphic power figure: boll Collected in Dyabougou,San region Wood,clay,organic materials. H.43 CM. Musee de l'Homme,Paris, Inv, Nr. MH 31.74.1091, Donated by the Mission Dakar-Djibouti 1931-1933. Publ. Leiris, Afrique phantome 1934; Goldwater 1960:22;Vogel und N'Diaye 1985:119(MRZ)

CAT.178 Antelope mask Sikasso region Wood,antelope horn,iron nails, fabric. H.58 cm. Private Collection Provenance: Hans Himmelheber (MRZ)

CAT.172 Kona zoomorphic power figure: boll Minianka region Wood,clay,organic materials. H.40 CM. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.173 Kano zoomorphic power figure: boll Minianka region Wood,clay,organic materials. H.38 CM. Peter Blum,New York(MAA) CAT.174 Kano zoomorphic power figure: boll Minianka region Wood,clay,organic materials. H.36.2 cm. Peter Blum,New York(MAA)

CAT.175 Kona zoomorphic power figure: boll Minianka region Wood,clay,organic materials. H.46.4 Cm. Jerome and Ellen Stern (MAA)

CAT.176 Ritual object:Samakun Bougouni region? Wood .H.47 Cm. Museum Rietberg Zurich,Inv. Nr. RAF 206. Collection, Eduard von der Heydt. Publ.von Sydow 1932:146; Leuzinger 1970: B 25; Phillips 1995: 499(MRZ)

CAT.169 Keno mask Minianka,Koutiala region Wood .H.98 cm. Private Collection(MRZ)


CAT.179 Kona(bird) mask Sikasso region Wood . H.44 cm. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.i8o Zoomorphic power figure: boll Collected in Dyabougou,San region Wood,clay,organic materials. H.20 CM. Musee de l'Homme,Paris, Inv. Nr. MH 31.74.1086, Donated by the Mission Dakar-Djibouti 1931-1933 Publ. Goldwater 1960:23;Vogel und N'Diaye 1985:121(MRZ) CAT.181 Cow mask: mishi Bougouni region Wood, metal. H.58.5 cm. Pace Primitive Gallery, New York (MAA) CAT.182 Ritual object Wasolon region Wood,fabric,earth,fibers, quills, pigment. H.45.5 cm. Charles and Kent Davis(MAA) CAT.183 Ritual hood: Namakorokun? Wood,fabric,earth,fibers, quills. H.61 cm. Charles and Kent Davis (MAA)

CAT.184 Staff Wood,quills,fibers,fabric,earth. H.147 Cm. Charles and Kent Davis(MAA)

CAT.185 Crest masks representing antelopes: Ci-wara Segou region Wood . H.84.5 and 73 cm. Private Collection Publ. Dapper 1995:182; 2000:Abb. 117; Leloup 2000:49(MRZ)

CAT.i86 Crest mask with female antelope and calf: Ci-wara Segou region Wood,metal. H.71 cm. Laura and James J. Ross Formerly F.H. Lem,Helena Rubinstein & Nortthorst Collections(MAA) CAT.187 Crest mask representing male antelope: Ci-wara Segou region Wood,metal. H.92.7 CM. Walt Disney - Tishman African Art Collection, inv.1984.AF.ostoo6. Publ: Vogel 1981:22 (MM) CAT.i88 Crest masks representing antelopes: Ci-wara Segou region Wood,string. H.87 and 66 cm. Private Collection Publ. Berjonneau 1987:137(MRZ) CAT.189 Crest masks representing antelopes: Ci-wara Segou region Wood. H.93 and 79 CMS. Museum Rietberg Zurich, Inv. Nr. RAF 202/203 Publ. Leuzinger 1963:37,39;Zahan, 1980:IF 12,IM 33; Wardwell 1984, 83(MRZ) CAT.190 Crest mask representing male antelope: Ci-wara Segou region Wood . H.81 cm. Collection Dr. B. Kofler, Riehen Publ. Leuzinger 1970: B8(MRZ)

CAT.191 Crest mask with female antelope and calf: Ci-wara Segou region Wood, metal,elephant hair. H.8i cm. The Menil Collection, Houston,inv. 70-088 DJ(MM) CAT.192 Crest mask representing male antelope: Ci-wara Segou region Wood. H.78.5 cm. Thomas Alexander and Laura Rogers(MM)

CAT.193 Crest mask representing female antelope and calf: Ci-wara or Sogonikun. Segou region Wood . H.61 cm. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.194 Crest mask representing male antelope:Ci-wara Saro region Wood .H.8o cm. Private Collection Publ. Leuzinger 1961: Abb.5(MRZ) CAT.195 Crest mask representing male antelope: Ci-wara Segou region Wood.H.8o cm. The Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation(MM) CAT.196 Crest mask representing female antelope and calf: Ci-wara Segou region Wood . H.7o cm. Rautenstrauch Joest Museum,Inv. Nr.43953 Collected in 1944, Former Collection Louis Carre Publ. Bassani 1978:192(MRZ) CAT.197 Crest mask with female antelope and calf: Ci-wara Segou region Wood . H.70 CM. Musee de l'Homme,Paris, Inv. Nr.08.7.2 Geschenk Ch. Monteil 1908(MRZ) CAT.198 Crest mask with female antelope and calf: Ci-wara Segou region Wood .H.66 cm. Private Collection Publ.Zahan 1980: Abb. IF 57(MRZ) CAT.199 Crest mask with female antelope and calf: Ci-wara litumu region Wood, metal. H.54 cm. Sydney L. Shaper Publ. Roberts 1995:129(MM) CAT.200 Crest mask representing male antelope: Ci-wara Segou region Wood, metal,cowries shells. H.57.8 cm. Walt Disney - Tishman African Art Collection,inv.1984.AF.o5Loo7. Publ: Vogel 1981:22 (MM)

CAT.201 Crest mask representing an hippotragus antelope and an anteater: Ci-wara Segou region Wood. H.54.6 cm. Harold Seidel, Clayton,MO (MM) CAT.202 Crest mask:Sogonikun Koutiala region Wood. H.40.5 cm. Drs. Noble and Jean Endicott (MM) CAT.203 Crest mask:Ci-wara Central Bamana region Wood,string. H.7o cm. Darwin and Geri Reedy Publ. Roberts 1995:156(MM)

CAT.210 Crest mask:Sogonikun Sikasso region Wood .H.36.5 cm. Collection Urs Albrecht, Basel (MRZ) CAT. 211 Crest mask:Sogonikun Collected by Henry Kamer in Markala village,Segou area. Wood. H.66 cm. Frank Carroll(MM) CAT.212 Crest mask:Sogonikun Sikasso region Wood .H.50.8 cm. Indiana University Art Museum, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection(MM) CAT.213 Crest mask:Ci-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood,iron. L.62 cm. Private Collection Publ. Rasmussen 1951: Abb.15; Zahan 1980:111 50(MRZ)

CAT.204 Crest mask:Sogonikun Sikasso region Wood . H.53 cm. Private Collection (MRZ) CAT.205 Crest mask:Sogonikun Sikasso region Wood,metal. H.47 cm. Private Collection(MRZ) CAT.206 Crest mask:Sogonikun Wood,cowrie shells, raffia. H.39.5 C111. Private Collection, Paris(MRZ) CAT.207 Crest mask:combination of Ci-wara and Sogonikun Sikasso region Wood,cowrie shells, raffia. H.52.5 CM. Museum Rietberg Zurich, Inv. Nr. RAF 205 Publ.Zahan 198o:IM 147 (MRZ) CAT.208 Crest mask:combination of Ciwara and Sogonikun Sikasso or Koulikoro region Wood, basketry. H.59.7 cm. Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass (MM) CAT.209 Crest mask:Sogonikun Koulikoro region Wood. H.23 CM. Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass Formerly Lee Lorenz(MM)

CAT.214 Crest mask:Ci-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood,iron, basketry. H.34 cm. Museum Rietberg Zurich,Inv. Nr. RAF 204 Publ. Leuzinger 1963:41;Zahan 1980:111 59(MRZ) CAT.215 Crest mask:Ci-wara Beledugu region? Late 19째'or early 20th century. Wood.L.78.5 cm. Richard Faletti Family Collection Publ. Nooter Roberts & Roberts 1998:54(MM) CAT.216 Crest mask:Ci-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood,metal,string. L. 65.5 cm. Private Collection, Montreal (MM) CAT.217 Crest mask:Ci-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood,fiber, rattan,string. L.75 cm. Henau Collection (MM) CAT.218 Crest mask:Ci-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood, metal,string. L. 58 cm. Private Collection Publ. Falgayrettes-Leveau 1995:182 (MRZ)



CAT.219 Crest mask:Ci-wara Bamako or Beledugu region Wood, metal. H.29.2 Cril. Jerome and Ellen Stern (MAA) CAT.220 Crest mask:Ci-wara Southern Mali, probably from Wasolon. Wood, metal strips and bands, basketry,string. L. 58.5 cm. Laura and James J. Ross Formerly Gaston de Havenon (MAA) CAT.221 Crest mask:Ci-wara Southern Mali, probablyfrom Wasolon. Wood,iron, basketry,feathers. L. 54 CM. Private Collection Publ. Leuzinger 1970: B 26; Leuzinger 1985:14b(MRZ) CAT.222 Crest mask:Ci-wara Beledugu region Wood,iron. H.25.5 CM. Private Collection Publ.Zahan 1980:11147; Abrams: Primitive Art(MRZ) CAT.223 Helmet mask with antelope heads Koulikoro region Wood,metal,fiber. H.52 cm. Thomas Alexander and Laura Rogers(MAA) CAT.224 Crest mask:Sogonikun Between Bougouni and Kinian Wood.H.19.1 cm. The Menil Collection, Houston,inv. Y7o8(MAA) CAT.225 Crest mask:Ci-wara Bougouni or Didila region Wood,string, basketry,feathers, beads,leather. H.64 cm. Museum der Kulturen Basel,Inv. Nr. III 3120(Frobenius 1908) Publ. Gardi 1988:54(MRZ)

CAT.227 Crest mask:Ci-wara Collected by Kjersmeier between 1935 and 1938 in Soulouba. Wood. H.49 cm. Private Collection, Montreal (MAA) CAT.228 Crest mask:Ci-wara Bougouni or Didila region Wood, basketry,fiber. H.56 cm. Musee de l'Homme,Paris, Inv. Nr.30.26.2, Donated by Henri Labouret 1930 Publ. Ndiaye 1994:43(MRZ) CAT.229 Crest mask:Ci-wara Bougouni or Didila region Wood.H.45.4 CM. New Orleans Museum of Art, Bequest of Victor K. Kiam (MAA) CAT.230 Crest mask:Ci-wara Central Bamana.Collected by Kjersmeier in Faragoran between 7935 and 7938. Wood,metal,fiber. H.35.5 cm. Jim and Ann Christensen (MAA) CAT.231 Crest mask:Ci-wara Bougouni or Didila region Wood. H.66.7 cm. The Menil Collection, Houston, in X3005(MAA) CAT.232 Face mask:Ci-wara Bozo peoples, Kita region. Collected by Michel Leiris and Marcel Griaule during the 7937 Dakar-Djibouti expedition. Wood,horns,glass,cowrie shells, seeds. H.78 cm. Musee de l'Homme,Paris Inv. Nr. 31.74.635 ,Donated by the Mission Dakar-Djibouti 1931-1933 (MRZ)

CAT.226 Crest mask:Ci-wara Sikasso region Wood .H.51 cm. Museum fur Volkerkunde Munchen,Inv. Nr. 14.7.6 Publ.Zahan 1980: Abb.11,30; Kecskesi 1999:175(MRZ)


BIBLIOGRAPHY of the art works included in the exhibtions Bassani, Ezio 1989 - La Grande Scultura dell'Africa. Nera,Florenz. 1978 -"Una bottega di grandi artisti Bambara." Critica d'arte,157-159: 209-228; 160-162:181-200.

Roberts,Allen F. 1995 - Animals in African Art:From the Familiar to the Marvelous. New York: Museum for African Art.

Berjonneau,Gerald and Jean-Louis Sonnery 1987 Chefs-d'oeuvre inedits. Paris.

Rubin,William 1984- Primitivism in 20th century Painting. New York: Museum of Modern Art.

Brincard, Marie-Therese (ed.) The Art ofMetal in Africa. New York:The AfricanAmerican Institute.

Sieber, Roy und Roselyn Adele Walker African Art in the Cycle of Life. Washington D.C.: National Museum of African Art.

Fagaly,William A. 1989 Shapes ofPower,BeliefofCelebration:African Art from New Orleans Collections. New Orleans: New Orleans Museum of Art. Fagaly,William A. 1983 -"The Victor K. Kiam Collection at the New Orleans Museum of Art." African Arts (XVI): 28. Galerie Leloup 2000 - Bambara. Paris. Gardi, Bernhard 1988 - Mali-Land im Sahel. Basel: Museum der Kulturen Kecskesi, Maria Kunst aus Afrika -Staatliches Museumfur Volkerkunde Miinchen. Munchen,London, New York: Prestel. La Chaux de Fonds 1971 - Afrique Noire- Sculptures des Collection privees Suis. Musee des Beaux Arts, La Chaux de Fonds. Leiris, Michel und Jacqueline Delange 1967- L'univers desformes. Paris: Gallimard. Leuzinger, Elsy 1961 - Afrika. Baden-Baden: Kunst der Welt. Leuzinger, Elsy Die Kunst von Schwarz-Afrika. Zurich: Kunsthaus. Leuzinger Elsy (ed.) 1978 - Die Kunst der Naturvolker. Propylaen Kunstgeschichte, Bd.3. Ndiaye,Francine 1994- Secrets d'inities. Boulogne-Billancourt: Editions Sepia. Nooter Roberts, Mary and Allen F. Roberts A Sense of Wonder:African Artfrom the Faletti Family Collection. Phoenix: Phoenix Art Museum. Phillips Tom (ed.) Africa - The Art ofa Continent. London: Royal Academy. Preston,George Nelson 1985 - Sets, Series & Ensembles in African Art. New York: The Center For African Art.

Sydow,Eckart von 1954- Afrikanische Plastik. Berlin. 1932- Kunstder. Naturvolker. Berlin. Vogel Susan 1981 - For Spirits and Kings:African Artfrom the Tishman Collection. New York:The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vogel,Susan und Francine Ndiaye 1985 - African Masterpiecesfrom the Muse('de l'Homme. New York:The Center for African Art. Vogel,Susan M.(ed.) 1997 - Baule - African Art, Western Eyes. New Haven:Yale University Press. Wardwell,Allen 1984 -"A Bambara Master Carver."African Arts vol. XVIII (1):83-84-

Photography Credits(by catalogue numbers) Dirk Bakker 136,145. Robert Bayer 159,172,179,210. Barbara Bourne103.Christoph Bunten 25. Judy Cooper 1, 6,47,63,64,69,70,79,120,128,131,152,157,158,161,182184,211,229. Mechael Cavanagh and Kevin Montague 21, 44,62,168,212. Charles Davis 16,164. H.Dubois BrusselsParis 3,7-10,1307,28,30-35,38,39,48-50,73,74,78,8o, 83,91,92,94-96,100,104,105,108,111,116-118,122,123, 130,133-135,137041,142047048,153,154066077,185,193, 198,204-206,213, 216,218, 227. B. Hatala171,180. Ferry Herrebrugh 42,75,81,97,99006,110,119,138049,155,217. Hickey-Robertson, Houston 14,101,191,224,231. Nancy Hind 2,27. Peter Homer 55,56,16o,225.Scott McCue 89. Steve Moriarty 150,230.5. Autrum Mulzer 84,115,226. Maggie Nimkin 109,112,140.1. Oster 98,132.0. Ponsard 20,58,82,139,195,228. Brita Schwarz 194.Craig Smith 90.Jerry L.Thompson 4,5,12,15,18, 23,24,36,40,41,43, 45,46,51,52,59,67,71,72,77,85,88,93,126,127,151,156, 163,165,167,173-175,181,186,187,197,199,200,202,208, 209,215, 219,220. David Ulmer 87,102,192,201,223. R. Wolfsberger 11,19,22,26,29,37,53,54,64-66,76,114,146, 162,169,170,176,178,188-190,196,207,214,221. Nel Yetsma 203. And courtesy of lending institutions or private lenders not included above.



CONTRIBUTORS Mary Jo ArnoIdi is the Curator of African

Catherine De Clippel is a photographer,director

Patrick McNaughton is Professor of African Art at Indiana University. His major research area is

Ethnology in the Department of Anthropology at

and producer of documentary films. Since the

the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural

foundation of her company Acme Films in 1980,

Mande West Africa, where he has worked closely

History. She has conducted research in Mali on

she has produced,in association with the

with three outstanding artists(Sedu Traore,

masquerades,festivals and urban art forms over

anthropologists Jean-Paul Colleyn and Marc

Seydou Camara,and Sidi Ballo). His particular

the past twenty years.She was the Lead Curator

Auge,and in co-production with the major

interests include the social roles of art,the quali-

for "African Voices," a permanent exhibition of

European television companies,a series of thirty

fications,training and expertise of artists,and

African history and culture which opened in

documentary films. In the last twenty years she

the involvement of aesthetics to every arena of

has traveled extensively in Mali where she has


1999 at the National Museum of Natural History.

created an important body of work as a photogRene A.Bravmann,Professor of Art History at


the University of Washington,Seattle, was born in France and educated in the United States. His

Kate Ezra is Coordinator of Art History at

current interests include the Sudanic element in

Columbia College Chicago and was Associate

Moroccan creativity and the artistic interface

Curator of African Art at the Metropolitan

between North Africa,the Sahara and Sudan.He

Museum of Art for over ten years.She is author

is the author of West African Sculpture, 1970;

of A Human Ideal in African Art:Bamana

Open Frontiers:the Dynamics ofArt in Black

Figurative Sculpture,Smithsonian Institution

Africa,1973;Islam and Tribal Art in West Africa,

Press,1986,as well as publications on the art of

1974; The Poetry ofForm,1982;and African Islamthe Artistry and Character ofBelief,1983.

the Dogon people of Mali and the Kingdom of

James T. Brink received his BA degree in History

Barbara E. Frank is an Associate Professor of Art

Benin in Nigeria.

from Wesleyan University and a Master's Degree

History at the State University at Stony Brook.

in the same subject from the University of

She teaches courses on the arts of ancient

Chicago. His Ph.D.in cultural anthropology was

Mesoamerica,Africa,and the African Diaspora.

received from Indiana University. His specialty

She has a Ph.D. in African Art History from

has been the arts in anthropology where he has

Indiana University. Her primary research has

published numerous articles,especially on folk

been in Mali,West Africa, where she has worked

theater and aesthetics. His field research was

with ceramic and textile artists,leatherworkers

concluded in Mali,West Africa,1974-1976 on a

and blacksmiths on artistry,technology and

Fulbright-Hays research grants.

social identity.

Jean-Paul Colleyn,anthropologist and filmmak-

Salia Male holds a doctorate in ethnology from

er, has conducted fieldwork in Mali,Togo and

the Universite de Paris X. He has held various

Ivory Coast since 1972. He teaches visual anthro-

posts at the Musee National du Mali since 1977,

pology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en

and was adjunct director from 1992-2000.Since

Sciences Sociales(EHESS)in Paris, where he is

October z000 he has been national coordinator

member of the Centre d'Etudes Africaines. He

of the Programme d'Appui a la Politique

has directed 30 documentary films and

Culturelle du Mali(Mali-European Community).

published four books including Les Chemins de

He is author of many articles on Malian tradi-

Nya and Le regard Documentaire.

tions, religions,and initiation societies among the Bamana,as well as on traditional music,tex-

David C.Conrad is Professor of History at the

tiles and other subjects.

State University of New York - Oswego,and President of the Mande Studies Association. He has a Ph.D. in African History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.Specializing in oral tradition,indigenous religion and early kingdoms of the western Sudan, he conducts research in Guinea and Mali.

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STAFF EXECUTIVE Elsie Crum McCabe President Anne Stark Deputy Director Ana Pelaez Executive Assistant Jerome Vogel Senior Advisor


Vickie Fremont Museum Store Manager

Andrei Nadler Controller

Emma Saccoh Assistant Manager

Rita Frederick Junior Accountant

Nectina Baltimore Anthony Cooper Carolyn Evans Juanita Perry Sales Associates

Cassie Adodeely Tanya Asad Trena Banks Al Brown Anita Burrows Peter Chamedes Nancy Clipper Nojamba Filomena Cornelio Gail Yvette Davis Dallas Fuentes Delinda Harrison Lois Henderson Merle Hollley Vincent Jennings Shirlene Johnson Stephanie Johnson Hassan Adam Jojo Thoomas Kocsis Shirley Marc Eileen McGinn LewEleanor McNeely Carlos Molina Dena Montague Karin Moser Wesley Reece Lisa Rhodes Xavier Rivera Karol Ross Terry-Ann Samuels Sandra Schofield Tanya Serduik Nicole R.Smith Pamela St. Cyr Josana Salcedo Tonda Aiesha Turman Paul Weidner Claude L. Winfield

Lawrence Kendle Stock Shipping



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"The essence of being for all living creatures is to pass on knowledge and survival skills to the next generation to ensure the continuity of life under challenging circumstances."


Profile for The Africa Center

Bamana: The Art of Existence in Mali  

Bamana: The Art of Existence in Mali provides a comprehensive study of Bamana philosophy and ethics.

Bamana: The Art of Existence in Mali  

Bamana: The Art of Existence in Mali provides a comprehensive study of Bamana philosophy and ethics.