Senufo Wooden Sculpture of a Woman

SKU PF.5912

20th Century AD


13.5″ (34.3cm) high x 3.25″ (8.3cm) wide




Ivory Coast

Gallery Location

S Korea


This wooden sculpture might be the representation of the Senufo goddess Kalieleo. She is the female counterpart of Koulo Tiolo, the Creator who was thought to be asleep, and thus was never depicted in sculptural form. However, the representations of Kalieleo are widespread in the Senufo art. She was the guardian mother of the village, protector of the Poro, a secret society of males responsible with passing on the sacred knowledge of the physical and spiritual world. She can be represented alone or giving the breast to a child. In this sculpture, she stands alone majestically composed and dignified. Her arms fall along her sides and rest open upon her belly. Her large breasts have been exaggerated, suggesting her bountiful fertility. Her hair has been styled into a large central crest from which descend braided locks that fall over her ears and along the back of her neck. Her facial features are characteristic of Senufo art, especially her inverted T-shaped nose and her protruding jaw with exposed teeth. Whether or not this woman is the goddess Kalieleo can be questioned; however, one cannot doubt the significance of this sculpture as a symbol of feminine beauty and fertility.

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