Large statues representing hornbills, the mythological founder of the Senufo people, are used in the Lo and Poro society as symbols of
fertility. The figures were originally worn on the head during long dances and processions but are also carved standing on the ground and are
often well over 3 feet tall.. These enormous birds, called Setien or Porpianong, when carved to represent procreation have their long hooked
beaks touching their protruding stomachs that have been fertilized, therefore being the carrier of life and a symbol of continuity to future
generations. The wings are usually represented as a square board, often carved or painted with geometrical patterns.
Hornbills are noble birds; they mate for life and they share equally in the raising of their young who they protect by spreading their wings, thus
they tend to be depicted in their erect, protective stance. Figures of the hornbill are used in initiation, and groups of birds on a pole are used
as trophies for the best farmer.
Sources: A History of Art in Africa / Africa - The Art of a Continent / The Tribal Art of Africa / The Dance, Art and Ritual of Africa
(animation below may be slow in loading depending on your connection speed)
|The 2 examples below are from photos I took at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in May of 2005
|Someday soon I will get around to
adding more examples on this page.
|If you are looking for one of these figures, the Hamill Gallery in Boston still has a few nice
ones left for sale. CLICK HERE to go to their website to see their figures.
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Rand African Art