Bamana marionette figures
|Masks and Puppets of the Village Association
The village association (ton) comprises female and male divisions and is organized according to age groups (flan-bolow).
One enters the ton after circumcision and leaves it at the age of about thirty-five. Every year the ton organizes a festival of
theatrical performances in the village square. These include koteba and the puppets known as sogo bo in a succession of
light-hearted sketches that satirize aspects of Bamana social and religious life. Prior to the public performances, ton
members parade through the village streets accompanying masks (sogow) such as Ngon and Ntomo. Sogobaw (big beasts)
resemble small mobile theaters with a head and a wood-frame body. Small puppets, expertly manipulated, emerge from the
back of this "beast".
From The Sogow by Mary Jo Arnoldi in Bamana: The Art of Existence in Mali. New York: Museum of African Art.
|37 inches long x 35 inches tall
Puppets of this type were used in a celebration called the Cheko. It is performed on a small scale after harvest when all
the work is done and then on a huge scale just before the new planting season. (Terry Sasser)
|The goat was my first puppet I bought, and the farmer was my second.
When I came across the farmer I couldn't resist because I thought they would go so well together.
|The book above is a fantastic reference book on African puppets
|Puppet above is in the collection at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY
|Hobby horse puppet with rider. Manipulated by strings.
Africa Museum, Berg en Dal, Holland