Object Place: Cote d'Ivoire
88.9 cm (35 in.)
Medium or Technique
Charlotte F. and Irving W. Rabb Gallery (Gallery 155)
This female deble figure is utilized in Poro society initiations and in the memorial ceremonies conducted long after actual burial that initiate the soul of the dead into the society of the ancestors. Poro society members carry it by its arms while rhythmically beating the ground with its base to purify the earth and/or to communicate with the other world. Such figures are usually carved as a male-female pair and are preserved within a sacred grove. The slender torso and enormously attenuated arms accentuate the negative space, while curves in the frontal view contrast with angularity in profile. This figure from the Boundiali region was collected in 1956 and was included in the 1963 Senufo exhibition curated by Robert Goldwater (but arrived too late to be included in the catalogue).
By 1963, Henri and Hélène Kamer (later Hélène Leloup), New York [see note 1]. Private American collection. December 1, 1994, sold by Pace Primitive and Ancient Art, New York (stock no. 54-0770) to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1996, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA; 2014, acquired fully with the bequest of William Teel to the MFA. (Accession Dates: December 18, 1996 and February 26, 2014)
 They lent this to the exhibition "Senufo Sculpture from West Africa" (Museum of Primitive Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Baltimore Museum of Art, 1963), cat. 57A.
Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel