Barakat Gallery
Login | Register | User Services | Search | Newsletter Sign-up
Barakat Gallery
HOME : African & Tribal Art : Bura : Bura Stone Sculpture
Click to view original image.
Bura Stone Sculpture - DC.331 (LSO)
Origin: Burkina Faso/Niger
Circa: 3 rd Century AD to 11 th Century AD
Dimensions: 13.5" (34.3cm) high
Collection: African Art
Medium: Stone

$7,500.00
Location: United States
Purchase
Currency Converter
Place On Hold
Ask a Question
Email to a Friend
Previous Item
Next Item
Photo Gallery
Click photo to change image.
Print image
Click photo to change image.
Print image
Click photo to change image.
Print image
Description
This powerful stone staff/figure was made by one of the most inscrutable groups in pre- colonial Africa: the Bura. In common with many other Bura pieces, it is designed essentially as a decorated column – a reductivist body – tapering inferiorly and swelling slightly to the midsection. The column is surmounted by a geometrical head, which is shaped roughly into a crested lozenge, the chin pointing downward. The profile of the face is dominated by the long, swooping nose that actually joins the top of the head far above the rest of the face; the ears are level with the eyes and flat to the head. The eyes are in the “coffee-bean” format, are slightly asymmetrical, and are also oriented downward. The mouth is rendered as a pair of incised lines that touch the jawline. The body is smooth up to the “neck”, which is banded with four horizontal incised lines. The back of the head is also decorated with these lines, and the figure appears to be wearing a hat which is rendered as crosshatching. It is somewhat phallic in overall appearance.

The Bura are a true paradox: almost nothing is known of this shadowy Nigerian/Malian group. They appear to have originated in the first half of the first millennium AD, although the only archaeologically-excavated site (Nyamey) dates between the 14th and 16th centuries. They are contemporary with – and probably related to – the Djenne Kingdom, the Koma, the Teneku and a satellite culture known as the Inland Niger Delta. Insofar as can be ascertained, the Bura share certain characteristics with these groups; for our purposes, these include extensive ceramic and stone sculptural traditions. The Bura appear to have been sedentary agriculturists who buried their dead in tall, conical urns, often surmounted by small figures. Their utilitarian vessels are usually plain, while other “containers” – the function of which is not understood – are often decorated with incised and stamped patterns. Their best-known art form is radically reductivist anthropomorphic stone statues, with heads rendered as squares, triangles and ovals, with the body suggested by a columnar, monolithic shape beneath. Phallic objects are also known; some phallomorphic objects may have been staffs, perhaps regalia pertaining to leaders of Bura groups. Ceramic heads are usually more complex than their stone counterparts, with incised decoration and variable treatment of facial proportions and features. There are a few very rare equestrian figures, which bear some resemblance to Djenne pieces; almost no intact human or equestrian figures are known.

The role of these figures is almost totally obscure. Equestrian figures probably represent high status individuals, and the very few full- body representations of humans may be portraits or ancestor figures. Intuitively – as with so many other groups both inside and beyond Africa – figures with exaggerated sexual characteristics would tend to be associated with fertility and fecundity, as would any artefact modelled in the shape of pudenda (although the sceptre-like qualities of some such pieces should be noted – see above). The distribution of decoration on some ceramic pieces (notably phalluses) may suggest that they were designed to be viewed from one angle only – perhaps as adorational pieces. Many pieces are believed to have been found in burials, perhaps implying an importance that would have been linked to social standing and status.

This is an important Bura sculpture, and a striking and attractive piece of ancient art from one of Africa’s lost civilisations.

- (DC.331 (LSO))

 

Home About Us Help Contact Us Services Publications Search
Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy Security

Copyright (c) 2000-2021 by Barakat, Inc. All Rights Reserved

contact-form@barakatgallery.com - TEL 310.859.8408 - FAX 310.276.1346

coldfusion hosting