|Standing male D'mba or Nimba figure
|In their original context, a male figure like this would have been paired with a female figure and possibly placed in a shrine to ensure
agricultural and human fertility. Both male and female figures are called d'mba, which refers to an ideal state of womanhood and
motherhood among the Baga. The hairstyle and facial patterns are typical of the neighboring Fulbe women, who are considered
extremely beautiful throughout West Africa. D'mba may represent ideals of human behavior and beauty that cross gender and ethnic
boundaries. Although the D'mba masquerade is always female, male and female D'mba figures exist, suggesting that the ideal that
D'mba represents crosses gender lines.
Source: Art of the Baga
Baga figures of this type, which can be either male or female, represent deities that had potentially both - good and evil influence - on
the life of the community. They were kept in shrines outside the villages and were associated with plant and human fertility. The
sculptures themselves did not serve as abodes for spirits, but rather as intermediaries between them and the people. Offerings were left
for the spirits at the shrines, and the figures were greatly respected in the hope that they might bring good fortune and benefits from the
spirits. (According to: A. Wardwell, African sculpture…, S. 32)
|Examples below for reference purposes
Baga Figure (below) - Metropolitan Museum of Art
Date : between the 19th and 20th century
Acquisition : Gift of Nelson A. Rockfeller (1979)
|Figures from the book: Art of the Baga
Female (L) 67.5 cm or 26.3" and Male (R) 69 cm or 26.9"
Collection of Fred and Rita Richman
|Figure from the book: Art of the Baga
Collection of James J Ross, New York
59 cm / 23 inches
|Asekou Sayon during his Islamic jihad, among the Baga Sitemu, Maren Village.
The crowd of youths with their teacher surrounds the booty of sacred objects confiscated during the campaign.
Photo: Jacqueline Nicaud, 1957
From the book: Art of the Baga
The 2 figures in the lower right hand side of the photo can also be seen below with additional information
|Standing female and male D'mba figures.
Baga Sitemu, Marefi Village, late nineteenth century.
Since these two figures were collected from the Baga, they
have undergone the complete restoration of each nose and
base. The same figures, before restoration, can be seen in
the field photograph with Asekou Sayon (above), lower
right. Wood. H. 86 cm. (both). National Museum of African
Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., Gift of
Samuel Rubin (78.14.4 female), (78.14.5 male).
Collected by Jacqueline and Maurice Nicaud, 1957.
|An excellent reference on the Baga and their art is "Art of the Baga: A Drama of Cultural Reinvention".
Click on the picture below to go to the Amazon.com page to view/purchase this book.
|This is a fantastic reference book on the Baga, their art and culture.
Chapter 11 is interesting as it talks about the Islamic Revolution and how it
affected the Baga people and how they overcame this drastic change in their