SENUFO
Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Mali
Kafigeledjo oracle figure
21" 1/2 x 8" x 3"

Provenance: Marc Assayag with Tookalook Native Arts
Ex Campbell Collection, Canada
Previously museum deaccessioned  (?)

There isn't any information to support where it might have come from before it came into the Campbell Collection, but it was thought that the
object was deaccessioned from a museum collection and the numbers on the back of the figure are typical of the numbering systems museum's
use to catalog their objects. If that is the case, then this figure came into that collection in 1984 since the number on the back states "84.214.35"

In any case, I REALLY love this piece, I love the abstract nature of it and the character the figure has in the face with the feathers on top of the
head. You don't see these figures too often and I think that my example is a nice one and I feel very lucky to have it in my collection.
I am working on getting a mount made for this figure. In the photos I just have him propped up on his arms.
My new photo style
Still not perfect, but it's a big improvement
My old photo style
Kafigeledjo figures
A hybrid creation that lies outside the realm of anything recognizable in nature, this oracle figure deliberately provokes anxiety through its shrouded
anonymity and the sense of suffocation and entrapment it suggests. Such works and the ritual practice in which they are used are both known as
kafigeledjo, a term that is variously translated as "he who speaks the truth," "tell the truth," or "saying true things." The figures give visual representation
to invisible bush spirits and function as divination devices. In contrast to the sublime humanism of works of Senufo Sando divination , they clearly
embody a wild and unsettling anti-aesthetic.

Kafigeledjo divination is used to uncover misdeeds, false testimony, and culpability. Like the tyeli divination technique practiced by Sandobele, this
pursuit of truth ultimately seeks to preserve and uphold Senufo social guidelines concerning descent. It does so by unveiling illicit behavior and by
punishing with supernatural sanctions those who violate rules pertaining to forbidden sexual relations and exogamous marriage. The kafigeledjo figure is
concealed within a small hut, and although it has the potential to affect all members of a Senufo community, access to this oracle figure is restricted to
the most enlightened senior male and, occasionally, female members. These elders occupy positions of leadership, as initiates into the highest level of
esoteric knowledge imparted by Poro, the Senufo men's initiation association. Poro and its counterpart, Sandogo (the Senufo women's association),
function as a system of government and oversee religious education and all ritual practices. Kafigeledjo is reputed to have been an instrument of such
elites throughout Senufo society in the past, but more recently it has been the sole province of the Kulebele wood carvers, a Senufo artisan subgroup in
the Korhogo region.

Kafigeledjo is thus a formidable force wielded by Kulebele leaders to distinguish their heritage and preserve the special interests of their constituents. In
order to harness its power and operate it successfully, these leaders establish their commitment through ritual sacrifices, which unevenly cover the
oracle figure's surface with crusty matter. A loosely fitting bodysuit made of a coarse fiber textile (probably burlap) exposes only the feet of the figural
representation within; above the neck—where the garment is cinched tightly by a cord—the cloth flares out in an inverted cone. The sleeves are empty
and weighted down by appendages tied to them with cord: on the figure's left side, a bone from a large bird, and on its right, a hooklike form made of
iron (a scythe?), which extends to the ground. The figure's head is crowned by a row of feathers interspersed with porcupine quills. At the figure's back,
two packets of organic materials are suspended by a knotted cord, giving the appearance of weighing the figure down. The effect of engulfing the figure
in a textile sack blurs the boundaries between material and immaterial, playing with the ambiguity between obscured and revealed form.

The details regarding usage of kafigeledjo figures are shrouded in secrecy. Moreover, no documentation exists to provide descriptions of how such
works operated or were physically manipulated. Beyond identifying their divinatory role and the sense of intimidation they inspire, commentaries also fail
to elucidate the significance of the kafigeledjo's appearance. On a purely descriptive level, its design resembles that of Fila, a genre of Senufo
masquerade costume found throughout the Kufolo region. The term fila is literally "dye-painted cloth," a patterned textile associated with madebele and
Sando divination. When performing the masquerade, referred to as a "divination cloth masquerade" or "amulet masquerade," a Fila dancer wears the
textile sack-style in a manner that recalls kafigeledjo's bodysuit. Underlying this formal affinity, the design and the symbolism of both representations are
dictated by local divination systems. Fila masquerades are commissioned as part of a Sando diviner's prescription for a female client, to placate bush
spirits she may have offended. She must arrange for someone to perform silently as a Fila dancer at funerals as a form of offering for the rest of her life.
It is impossible to say whether kafigeledjo figures influenced the costume of Fila dancers or vice versa. Whatever the origin of the imagery, to some
extent they may be considered inversions of each other: one represents a wild force that has been subdued and harnessed as a means for unveiling
and punishing transgressions, while the other embodies a hopeful appeal directed toward such an entity for social and spiritual harmony to be restored.

Source: http://www.metmuseum.org
Oracle Figure (Kafigeledjo)
Senufo, Côte d'Ivoire
Wood, iron, bone, commercially woven fiber, organic material; H. 82.6 cm (32 1/2 in.)
19th–20th century
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wielgus, 1964
1978.412.488
Five Figures: kafigeledio
Senufo, Cote d'lvoire/Mali
Wood, fabric, feathers, fiber; H: various

Exhibition:
African  Sculpture:   The Shade of Surprise,
New York 1980.

Publications:
— African Sculpture: The Shade of Surprise,
New York 1980, p. 14, no. 26-28.

From the Armand Arman Collection
as published in the book
African Faces, African Figures
This type of object is kept only by the kulebele sculptors, and represents a particularly powerful supernatural spirit. This spirit is capable of rendering a
verdict,   practicing  divination,   applying sanctions, and the setting in motion of the violent occult powers that range from positive magic to destructive
sorcery. The kafigeledio once again place us at the borderline between good and evil, the effect depending on how they are employed and, above all,
on the person¬al ethics of their possessors. Like any weapon, they can defend, avenge and protect, but also may be used to attack, from which follows
their capacity to generate disquiet and anxiety. The persons, male or female, capable of using them are the elders who have acquired the most
complex poro esoteric knowledge of the kulebele. Without the mastery of this secret science whose acquisition requires years of training, no kulebele is
capable of mobilizing the power of the kafigeledio in his possession. These small sculptures faithfully reproduce the costume and equipment of the
nyam-belege mask, the agent of social control used within the framework of poro ceremonies. Entirely covered by a costume of fabric and a triangular
hood, like the kqfigeledio, the duty of this mask is to maintain order. With the small batons that they hold in hand, the kqfigeledio may at any moment
designate the person who will fall victim to these terrible occult powers.
A.M.B.

Source: African Faces, African Figures
Sotheby's New York, November 15, 2002
Lot 6 - A FINE SENUFO FIGURE
kafigelejo, composed of a wooden infrastructure overlaid by encrusted cloth, the standing figure with abstract attenuated body wearing a heavily
encrusted sack, with arms affixed beneath the volumetric head encased in a triangular, similarly encrusted sack inset with feathers at the crown;
fine and varied heavily encrusted sacrificial patina overall.
height 24in.   61cm

PROVENANCE
Ludwig Bretschneider, Munich

Estimate- $6,000-9,000
Fila dancers
The term fila is literally "dye-painted cloth," a patterned textile associated with madebele and Sando divination. When performing the masquerade,
referred to as a "divination cloth masquerade" or "amulet masquerade," a Fila dancer wears the textile sack-style in a manner that recalls
kafigeledjo's bodysuit. Underlying this formal affinity, the design and the symbolism of both representations are dictated by local divination systems.
Fila masquerades are commissioned as part of a Sando diviner's prescription for a female client, to placate bush spirits she may have offended.
She must arrange for someone to perform silently as a Fila dancer at funerals as a form of offering for the rest of her life. It is impossible to say
whether kafigeledjo figures influenced the costume of Fila dancers or vice versa. Whatever the origin of the imagery, to some extent they may be
considered inversions of each other: one represents a wild force that has been subdued and harnessed as a means for unveiling and punishing
transgressions, while the other embodies a hopeful appeal directed toward such an entity for social and spiritual harmony to be restored.
Photo source: Eliot Elisofon Field photographs, 1942-1972
SIRIS Database: http://www.siris.si.edu/