Senufo Fertility Figure

Type: figure
Exhibits: Cycle of Life
Tribes: Senufo peoples
Location: Cote the d'Ivoire, Mali
Period: 20th Century
Materials: Pigment, Wood

Large female Senufo figures may embody the primordial mother; her secret name is "one who gives birth" or "one who bears offspring". This figure is depicted as a pregnant fully initiated woman, as indicated by the ritual scarification and adornments of women's Sandogo association initiates. This association exercises social control through its knowledge of genealogy and kinship (Glaze 1981:46-48). Sandogo protects the purity of matrilineage and sponsors divination to maintain good relationship between villagers and supernatural beings. This might be expressed by the tortoise she is standing on, which symbolize in African Mythology wisdom, longevity, caution, prudence, and its ability to live underwater, gives it familiarity with the spirits of the other world who live in water, and the rain-god. (J. Knappert 1990:224). Her high rank and status are expressed in a conceptual image of a person riding a horse/donkey (?), and carrying a pig on her head. The animals, her beautiful belly (pregnancy) her scarification and adornments refer to prosperity, beauty and health, all linked with fecundity and women's social power as producers and reproducers of female fertility. 

Senufo Fertility Figure
Senufo Fertility Figure
Senufo Fertility Figure
Senufo Fertility Figure