African puppets
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Great reference books on African puppets and marionette figures
Museum examples
Puppet above is in the collection at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY
This puppet is not in my collection, it is in the Spillmann collection, France

Bala kono kun
"Head of the river bird"
Mali
38" long x 46" tall (including cloth)

"According to legend, the Bozo are descendants of Faro, the water spirit and creator god. They are seen as the inventors of the masquerade
tradition in Mali. Another group from the area also with a strong masquerade tradition, the Bamana, are putting on a grand spectacle here in Segou
too with their own puppets and masks. The Bamana have always been connected to the land as farmers. Their puppets and masks differ from the
Bozo’s aquatic animals, representing animals of the bush and domestic animals, as well as spirits and human beings.

A pair of Kono — birds that announce the rains — now take centre stage. The birds, with beautiful large painted beaks prance slowly in loose
formation on the sand, flapping their wings and bending their necks. The singers praise the bird’s character and its importance in the lives of the
people: “You, bird be welcome/ Malikono, you are popular/ Bird of the river, the water of the river has inundated the field…Bird of the river, you do
not have a father/ Bird of the river, the animal has left no place to lie down/ Bird of the river, Allah is your support”

Source - Elisabeth den Otter
This puppet head has features from 2 African birds. The circular structure on top of the puppet head is
similar to the crowned cranes (however I believe they are found in East Africa), and the beak of the
puppet is very similar to the African hornbill.
The example below is not in my collection, it is for reference purposes only.
Bala kono kun
tête de l’oiseau du fleuve (head of the river bird)
région de Ségou, Mali
bois peint, tissu
longueur 85 cm

Albert Loeb Gallery, Paris