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Mother and Child

Bamana peoples

Not on view

In Bamana society, individuals can acquire mystical knowledge through initiation into a number of distinct associations. Induction into the Jo association followed a six-year course of study by all young men and some women. Jo’s leadership sponsored the creation of sculptures by Bamana blacksmiths that represented cultural ideals and values. The regal protagonists are defined by a crisp precision and idealized naturalism that exemplifies jayan, or aesthetic of clarity. The visual impact of the larger-than-life allegorical figures attracted the attention, focused the eye, and directed the thoughts of viewers who assembled to reflect collectively upon shared social ideals. A personification of motherhood, referred to as Gwandansu, was the centerpiece of such annually displayed sculptural ensembles, or tableaux vivants.

Mother and Child, Wood, Bamana peoples

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