BAMANA ANIMAL PUPPET 71, Mali

This puppet has been vetted as being authentic.


Photographs © Hamill Gallery

BAMANA
ANIMAL PUPPET 71
44.5" high x 15" wide x 27" deep as on stand (30" high puppet alone)
Mali
$1000

The closed jaw opens with one string, then closes with a rubber strap. The limbs of all three figures move by pulling on their respective strings. Two cardboard strips up the back cover the channels for the strings. This complex puppet is constructed with 22 pieces of wood. The custom stand is included.

Sogo bo, the puppet masquerade drama of the Bamana, is an exploration of the moral universe. The largest group of masquerade characters and the oldest performed in the theater are bush animals. In Bamana communities, 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 heros. Over the last decades, at the same time that the actual area of uncultivated land has constricted and the number of hunters have diminished, the definition of the bush and the nature of the hunter/hero have been extended to other arenas of endeavor. In the Sogo bo theater, bush animal masquerades remain important precisely because they are richly drawn and complex metaphors through which to explore the nature of knowledge and power [and] the relationship of the individual to the group.

From The Sogow by Mary Jo Arnoldi in Bamana: The Art of Existence in Mali. New York: Museum of African Art.

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