Caryatid Drum (Pinge)

Small woman seated on a pedestal with a large human-sized drum on her head

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  • Small woman seated on a pedestal with a large human-sized drum on her head




Côte d'Ivoire
Northern Africa and the Sahel

About this artwork

This elaborate ceremonial drum takes the form of a seated woman gracefully balancing a load on her head. The figure’s stylized features are characteristic of Senufo figural art, in particular that of the hereditary kulebele woodcarvers, a group of artists who have historically traveled widely to work on location for patrons who commission their work. The strong and dignified female figure that holds this drum aloft evokes the Senufo ideal of women as family founders and spiritual mediators and guardians. Her composed expression projects a sense of inner calm that belies the great weight she carries, while her seated pose reflects a position of honor within the community. The drum’s hide-covered resonating chamber is embellished with motifs that allude to conflict and competition, including warriors, a snake devouring a fish, and a crocodile biting into the decorative edge of the drum itself. These motifs emphasize the importance of knowledge and power in a world of competing spiritual and temporal forces.

In some Senufo communities, men play ceremonial drums during agricultural competitions or initiation rituals. Women may also play them during commemorative funerals for women of status.

Currently Off View

Arts of Africa




Caryatid Drum (Pinge)


Côte d'Ivoire




Wood, hide, and applied color


122.9 × 49.2 cm (48 3/8 × 19 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Robert J. Hall, Herbert R. Molner Discretionary, Curator's Discretionary, and African and Amerindian Art Purchase funds; Arnold Crane, Mrs. Leonard Florsheim, O. Renard Goltra, Holly and David Ross, Departmental Acquisitions, Ada Turnbull Hertle, and Marian and Samuel Klasstorner endowments; through prior gifts of various donors

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Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .


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