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    Description

    BAMANA, Mali
    Horse Head Marionette

    Wood, brass

    Among subsistence farming Bamana people, the powerful Kore men's agricultural society once sponsored a type of secular entertainment designed to challenge immoral village activity through satire. Costumed dancers acted out irresponsible and outrageous behavior, mocking authorities and commoners alike to counter their attacks on the social order and restore balance and decency. The costumes were frequently sexually explicit; all normally-hidden behavior was exposed to ridicule. Spectators could easily identify individuals at whom the satire was aimed and the targets would lose face or "social capital," a dangerous situation for any individual in closely-knit farming villages.

    Performances featured both costumed masqueraders with wood masks and puppets manipulated from below by men hidden within a lightweight house-like structure made of a wood framework covered with cloth or matting. The marionettes in human or animal form projected from the top of the house-like structure. Humans were often complete figures, but animals, either domestic or wild, were often heads on sticks. Animals appearing in the masquerades symbolized lazy or wily characteristics.

    The present horse head marionette displays characteristic attenuated Bamana forms, with long, backswept ears and thin head ending in a muzzle with an open mouth showing the tongue. Sheet brass strips decorated with zigzag designs serve as a bridle and the wood surfaces have a fine, medium-brown patina.

    Provenance:
    From the Estate of Liz Claiborne and Arthur Ortenberg

    Read more about the Liz Claiborne and Arthur Ortenberg Collection here.


    Sotheby's African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art, November 18 & 20, 2000, lot 40
    Galerie Leloup, Paris

    Height: 16 inches


    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    July, 2016
    8th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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