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Bala Players

Dogon peoples

Not on view

In Mande culture, the xylophone-like bala figures in the Sunjata epic as the magical, preciously guarded possession of the blacksmith sorcerer king of Suso. The Moroccan author Ibn Battuta recounts that during his 1352 visit to the court of the Malian emperor Suleyman, he witnessed a bala performance by the official jeli, Dugha, who was accompanied by a chorus of one hundred female singers. As bala playing is not a customary activity in Dogon society, its depiction in this striking sculpture is exceptional.

Bala Players, Hardwood with organic materials, iron, Dogon peoples

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Photo:Hughes Dubois