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64. Malinke female figure, Mali, wood and metal, 21 1/4" (54 cm)
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64. Malinke female figure, Mali, wood and metal, 21 1/4" (54 cm)
  The Malinke people of Mali are an ethnic group very closely related to the Bamana and who share many of the same cultural concepts and beliefs. This statue, called Jonyeleni, is related to the Jo society, a complex and secret society based on many interlocking myths that is concerned with social, individual and universal order. Jo was initially “possessed “ by the women, who discovered it in the bush, though it has passed over to the men while retaining its power in a feminine presence.
  The Jonyeleni shows a young woman at her most ideal state of physical and spiritual beauty. By extension they represent the ideal qualities as represented by Jo beliefs. Used during a festival held once in seven years, the Jonyeleni are carried from village to village as part of an exhibition of the values of Jo and serve to “increase the attraction and social bearing.” The rounded head seen here is stylistically Malinke. The figures are well cared for and treated with oils which give them their deep, glossy surface.

Collection of Tookalook Tribal Arts

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