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HOME : African & Tribal Art : African Stools : Senufo Wooden Stool in the Form of an Animal
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Senufo Wooden Stool in the Form of an Animal - PF.3945
Origin: Northern Ivory Coast/Mali
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 7.25" (18.4cm) high x 27" (68.6cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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The Senufo believe in the god Koulotiolo, creator of the world; an aloof and inaccessible deity. On the other hand, and much closer to home, is Katieleo, mother of the village who regenerates the world and redeems people through initiation rites of the Poro. The Poro is the powerful and all-important association responsible for initiations. Young boys, as early as seven years old, begin their instructions in practical matters, such as farming, and the more mysterious study of their people's mythology. They are trained to be responsible and useful members of the village, instilled with a sense of brotherhood that will last them the rest of their lives.

Such great events as the coming of age deserve great festivities, and the Poro society is famous for their ritual celebrations. Without knowing the function of this charming stool, it may come as a surprise to learn it was in fact used in initiation ceremonies. An initiate would ride the back of the animal, performing an elaborate dance with his brother initiates. Holes in the neck and tail of the stool allow a rope to be passed through, which was then swung around the dancer's back and attached to a headdress. Such performances were often highly choreographed and required long hours of practice. Though the animal depicted appears calm and serene, he comes alive in the joy of dance, full of life and energy, as if riding across the savanna with a young boy who is on the threshold of manhood.
- (PF.3945)


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