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Unknown Maker
Figure of a Bird (Sejen) Figure of a Bird (Sejen)
20th century 20th century

For the elders of the Senufo peoples’ Poro society, such monumental sculptures of hornbills are symbols of their authority over the younger initiates. The term porpianong, which means “mother of the Poro child,” metaphorically indicates the elders’ role. Gahariga refers to a specific type of hornbill, which the Senufo call “the master among birds.” The hornbill¿s phallic-like beak and swelling abdomen signifies hoped-for fecundity but also the intellectual and creative ability shown by the best initiates.

Some hornbill sculptures record symbols of the society’s knowledge on the rectangular plane of the wings; the remaining pigment patches seen in the Lang sculpture may indicate that it once contained such information.

 
Unknown Maker
Senufo peoples Senufo peoples
Figure of a Bird (Sejen) Figure of a Bird (Sejen)
20th century 20th century
wood, pigment wood, pigment
height / width / depth: 68.00 x 24.00 x 12.00 cm; 26.77 x 9.45 x 4.72 in.
Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984 Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984
M84-307

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