Figure in the form of a hornbill (porpianong)

20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Cote d'Ivoire


160 cm (63 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, metal and pigment

On View

Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



This large sculpture was borne aloft as an emblem of Poro society leadership during initiation rites. Sometimes called “the mother of Poro children,” it represents the hornbill, a bird that mates for life, one of the five Senufo primordial animals. The bold juxtaposition of shapes-flat rectangular wings, round swelling stomach, elongated neck and phallic beak-creates a compelling image. Polychroming is geometric on one wing, curvilinear on the other, and covers the back entirely. The holes in the wings accommodated cords to steady its movement, and the beak bears native metal repairs.


J. J. Klejman (dealer; b. 1906 – d. 1995), New York. Private American collection. December 8, 1989, sold by Pace Primitive and Ancient Art, New York (stock no. 52-11952) to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1994, year-end gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 25, 1995)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel