A female Senufo déblé or rhythm pounder, from the region of M’Bengué / Boundiali, Ivory Coast, standing on a cylindrical base, slender legs and elongated arms, as well as the torso, navel protruding with radiating scarifications, firm round breasts, a long curved neck, the head zoomorphic with an animal.like mouth, a long nose and closed eyes, an Iroquois-like coiffure.
This type of sculptures – kown under the name deble – is one of the most famous works of West African Art. After the early 1960th, when the Massa-movement destroyed most of the important Senufo objects, only a few old, authentic Rhythm Pounder were saved and came to Western world. There are no sculptures from the time before 1960 existing anymore in the Senufo region of Ivory Coast, Burkina and Mali. But in some rural regions the old animistic tradition is still existing and also the funeral ceremonies, in which the deble rhythm pounder has its ritual function. There are differences in the ceremonies in comparison to the years before 1960. In particular, the holy groves, don’t exist anymore or aren’t known by Western ethnologists. It were secret fields, where the Senufo placed their ritual sculptures in the forest. These precious objects would probably be stolen immediately because in nearly every village the Islamic influence becomes stronger and there are more people, who are against the old animistic tradition than decades before. Now these objects are protected in huts close to the village.
Many of these Rythm Pounders were used like a hammer to open symbolically or more or less directly a hole in the thick adobe wall of a hut, to carry the dead body of a man – it´s a male sculpture – outside for funeral purpose. In the literature is only described the pounding on earth and the swinging over the ground, but not the described function, which is the reason for the desolate conditions of many déblé bases. This sculpture shows signs of use at the base but is in a rather good condition. W.J.
Lit.: Anita J. Glaze, Art and Death in a Senufo Village, Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1981. Robert Goldwater, Senufo Sculpture from West Africa – The Museum of Primitive Art New York, 1964. acques Kerchache, Jean-Louis Paudrat and Lucien Stéphan, Art of Africa, New York, 1993. Hans-Joachim Koloss, Till Förster, Die Kunst der Senufo, Elfenbeinküste, 1979. Burkhard Gottschalk, Senufo. Massa und die Statuen des Poro, Düsseldorf 2002. Till Förster, Smoothing the Way of the Dead, A Senufo Rhythm Pounder, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2005): 54ff., ill.
1.600 – 2.000,- Euro
Height: 128 cm
Weight: 9,0 kg (incl. stand)