Requires Photography

Oil lamp

African, Mali, Bamana peoples
20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Mali


Overall: 98 x 14 x 14 cm (38 9/16 x 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art


Decorative arts

The production of masks and metal objects was the responsibility of the blacksmiths, referred to as numuw. They were leaders of the Komo secret society, which was oversaw the spiritual health and longevity of the community. This oil lamp, which recalls similarly constructed prestige staffs, depicts an anthropomorphized human figure with arms pointed upwards. Bamana smiths used objects like this one as a way to display their technical ability and creative skills.


1993, sold by Allen Hurst, Cambridge, MA to Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart