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2. Bamana male figure, Mali, wood, 35.2" (90 cm)
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2. Bamana male figure, Mali, wood, 35.2" (90 cm)
  The Bamana are the largest ethnic group in Mali (numbering around 2.5 million). Their kingdom dates back to the 17th century, though elements of cultures assimilated into their kingdom predate this. Their civilisation is based on agriculture.
  This male figure, called Guannyeni, is an attendant to a great maternity statue (called Guandousou) and a male figure usually holding a knife, (called Guantigui). Attributed to one or another society within the Bamana culture, this particular figure is part of a group, most of which are now in the Metropolitan Museum, which were found in a cave in Mali several decades ago, and which are several centuries old. What I find so moving in this statue is the sense of timelessness and continuity. Like the movie “The Red Violin,” we are the ephemeral, passing moment in the life of this statue, which has caught, in a way hard to put into words, something universal about humanity.

Collection of Charlie and Blanche Derby

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