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HOME : African & Tribal Art : African Stools : Senufo Wooden Ceremonial Stool
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Senufo Wooden Ceremonial Stool - PF.4534
Origin: Northern Ivory Coast/Mali
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 10.5" (26.7cm) high x 25.25" (64.1cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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When the time was right, young boys were taken into the sacred woods to begin their initiation. They followed a secret path known only to their particular society, led by a leader of the Poro, or men's association. The path was made intentionally difficult to follow in order to confuse visitors. Eventually it led to a circular island of forest in the middle of the savanna. There, the young initiates would find a group of small huts. After the proper rituals were performed they would be "visited" by deceased ancestors and bush spirits who instructed them on practical, religious and moral issues needed to become a respected member of society.

An initiation may last up to a month, and afterwards a great celebration was held. Masks and statues were used as essential tools in these rituals, as were items such as this elegant stool. The initiates appeared riding these "animals," galloping around with their friends in a dance that was choreographed to give expression to many different emotions, understood immediately by the audience. The stool would have been held by a rope, swung around the riders back and attached to a headdress. It is skillfully made, beautifully balanced and very graceful; like the wild animals of the savanna young boys dream of riding.
- (PF.4534)


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