Hunter's Tunic

20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Mali


Overall (Shirt): 86 x 66 cm (33 7/8 x 26 in.) Overall (shirt): 130 x 103 cm (51 3/16 x 40 9/16 in.) Overall (cap): 16 x 26 x 16 cm (6 5/16 x 10 1/4 x 6 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Cloth, leather, mirrors, metal, horn or bone, shells, bird skulls, fur, paper, yarn

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art, Textiles and Fashion Arts



Among the Mande peoples, including the Bamana, shirts and headdresses with potent substances ritually protect and fortify hunters, who venture into the wilderness and confront unpredictable spirits and dangerous animals. The men do not wear these gowns during the actual hunt, but don them during festivals and public events-a sign of distinction and their elevated role in society. These powerful objects began their journeys into art collections only in the 1960s, when shifts in Western scholarship and taste moved textiles and dress into the realm of art.


1960s, acquired in Bamako, Mali by 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