Kora Player [Joueur de Cora]

Louis Hostalier (Senegal) French
A.B. & Co.

Not on view

Traveling with their camera and a rolled backdrop, photographers, such as Hostalier, could reach a wider clientele across the region. In this carefully orchestrated mise-en-scène, a man holds a kora, a stringed instrument from West Africa, and stands in front of a painted backdrop of a Senegalese village hidden among palm trees. His position suggests movement, as if he were playing his instrument while walking by his village. The pose and prop identify him as a griot, or historian, the guardian of noble families’ histories and lineages. The composition’s theatricality, enhanced by the presence of the backdrop, tells us more about the mythical figure of the griot than the sitter’s own identity.

Kora Player [Joueur de Cora], Louis Hostalier (Senegal) (French, active ca. 1890–1912), Postcard format photomechanical reproduction

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