Puppet Masquerades in the Valley of the Niger
by Mary Jo Arnoldi
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Masquerade characters are continually being created for the theater and some characters like Yan Ka Di (This Place is Good), remain favorites for many decades and are adopted by troupes throughout the Segou region. Yan Ka Di was invented by blacksmiths in the Shianro area in the first decades of the twentieth century. She soon gained popularity throughout the entire region and was still regularly being played by troupes well into the 1960s. Today, the Yan Ka Di puppet is the most frequently carved puppet sold in the tourist art markets in Bamako.