Sculpture of the Bamana Jo Society

by Kate Ezra
Yale University Art Gallery (formerly Columbia College of Art)

Mali; Bamana peoples

Seated male with lance

Wood

15th-20th century

H. 89.9 cm  (35 3/8")

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, U.S.A., Gift of the Kronos Collections, in honor of Martin Lerner, 1983 (1983.600a, b)

These groups of sculptures seen once a year were considered an extraordinary sight, and people walked for miles to see them.  Some Bamana people even referred to the ensembles of sculptures as teatri, their word for theater.  Just as in theater, the meaning of the sculptures is revealed by looking at the relationships between the "characters."