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Image of Horse Rider

Bamana or Dogon Peoples

Horse Rider

20th century

Object Type: Sculpture
8 3/4 in. x 2 in. x 9 in. (22.23 cm x 5.08 cm x 22.86 cm)
Medium and Support: Iron
Accession Number: 2013.0017.0014

Credit Line: Gift of Dileep and Martha Mehta

Bamana smiths consider equestrian-topped staffs the most difficult to make. Such sculptures are widely distributed in Mali and can be used for various purposes. Sculptures on staffs proclaim the status or profession of the owner. Some were used as family insignia of chiefs. The staffs are full of spiritual power or "nyama" because they were forged in iron by smiths, who wield great spiritual energy. Moreover, the horse and rider is a symbol of power. In Bamana myth, the first humans descended to earth on a horse. Not all equestrian figures today are attached to the tops of staffs.

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