Female figure

20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Mali


54.61 cm (21 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Africa and Oceania



Living near the Bamana in southern Mali, the Malinke carve figures and masks that closely resemble those of their neighbors. This small, delicately carved figure standing on a domed base bears intricate geometric incising. A visual tension is created between the round crested head with its heart-shaped face and the vertical body with its scarification. Such figures, sometimes called dyonyeni, are thought to be idealized expressions of women and were displayed at Jo society events, among other contexts.


Dr. Helen Kuhn, Los Angeles. April, 1984, sold by Pace Primitive and Ancient Art, New York (stock no. 51-4968), 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)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel