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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Djenne : Djenne Zoomorphic Sculpture
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Djenne Zoomorphic Sculpture - PF.3049
Origin: Central Mali
Circa: 12 th Century AD to 13 th Century AD
Dimensions: 5.25" (13.3cm) high x 3.5" (8.9cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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A striking aspect of Djennean art is its apparent freedom from artistic canons. What is unusual about Djenne art is its innovative fluidity, an unpredictability within its recognizable stylistic forms. This fantastic zoomorphic figure of the Djenne culture has incredible movement and innovative fluidity. The statue impresses us with its importance, by the large incisions encircling its two hind legs and one incision encircling the solid frontal mass which is perhaps the two front legs together. Its head is arched to the heavens with the natural crown of its horns trailing down to its back. The mouth is slightly open as the tongue licks the right nostril. The eyes are half closed in an imaginative state of meditation or bliss. The statue leaves us with a feeling of serenity and freedom. This great civlization flourshed in the alluvial floodplains and surrounding region at the great bend in the Niger River. We do not know what the inhabitants called their country, but today we name it, for convenience Djenne, the town near the southern end of that civilzation's principal archaeological zone. Almost all of what we know of the Djenneans has been gleaned from the rich archaeological remains they have left us to decipher. This statue probably had a ritual and magic function. It is quite obvious that Djenne, the Inland Delta, and the whole of Africa will reveal a lot more secrets in the future. - (PF.3049)


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