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Unknown Maker
Female Poro Figure (Pombia) or “Rhythm Pounder” (Déblé)
20th century

Perhaps once part of a male-female pair, this pombia possesses a substantial base that suggests it was used as a “rhythm pounder,” or déblé, a distinctive type of spirit figure. In Senufo communities, all men pass through an age-grade association called Poro, which employs paired male and female figures in its teachings and rituals. During processions, initiates swing déblé from side to side, rhythmically pounding the ground as they move along. This action is said to purify the earth and invite ancestors to participate in the festivities.

The female gender of the Lang figure is reinforced by the radiating striations around the navel. Applied to the bodies of all Senufo women at puberty, such markings are referred to as kunoodyaadye, which means “navel of mother” or “mother of twins.” Senufo society is matrilineal; the design simultaneously invokes creation stories and celebrates women¿s vital roles as guarantors of cultural continuity. Markings can also be seen on the figure¿s face, breasts, and back.

 
Unknown Maker
Senufo peoples
Female Poro Figure (Pombia) or “Rhythm Pounder” (Déblé)
20th century
wood
height / width / depth: 116.80 x 15.00 x 16.00 cm; 45.98 x 5.91 x 6.30 in.
Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984
M84-042

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