A Senufo horseman

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A Senufo horseman, carved by a wellknown sculptor of the Northern Korhogo region, “the diminutive horse surmounted by the large rider with elongated torso, the finely articulated hands holding the horse’s ear, and the right  hand holding a curved blade with indigenous repair at the wrist, the head with a sloped facial plane, pursed lips and large downcast eyes and wearing a broad helmet with a nobbed finial; aged and varied deep brown patina.

This equestrian figure is incredibly refined in carving style and sophistication of concept marrying traditional accoutrements of prestige into an equestrian composition. The carver exhibits a wonderful play of scale and proportions in this figure.

The rider wears a broad Sudanic helmet that identifies him as a champion cultivator, sambali, ‘a title given to those whose strength,  perseverence and willingness to endure pain…have earned them the most prestigious honor a man can achieve’. See Barbier, ed. (1993: 26) for a closely related figure, collected before 1939, wearing this type of hat which was made by the farmers themselves.

The Senufo ‘associate horses with leadership, wealth, status, hunting and militarism. Riders sculpted by Senufo artists are often armed with spears at the ready. They represent the multi-dimensional powers of madabele (forest or ‘bush’ spirits). In equestrian statuary a bush spirit is shown as a forceful, well-armed leader, or fanhafolo (‘power-owner’). Bush spirits are capricious, fast-traveling, nocturnal, mysterious and aggressive.. . .Such figures are display pieces in a diviner’s or priest’s shrine where. . . they connote luxury, good taste and prestige’ (Cole 1983: 11-13).

The Franklin figure sends a message of ‘double’ power in its representation of an equestrian bush spirit clearly imbued with the additional power and skill of a master cultivator.”

Rand African Art, Sothebys Auction results1990.

1.800 – 2.400,- Euro

Height: 53 cm
Weight: 2,9 kg

Additional information

Weight 2.9 kg