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Male Figure

A work made of wood, pigment, and sacrificial material.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of wood, pigment, and sacrificial material.


Possibly 18th century


Bandiagara region, Mali
Northern Africa and the Sahel

About this artwork

Made for a large altar honoring ancestors, this figure’s crusty surface resulted from repeated ritual applications of sacrificial materials including animal blood, millet porridge, plant juice, and oil, infusing it with a vital energy. Its braided hairstyle, thin beard, amulet-pendant, and ritual staff (on his left shoulder) suggest that this figure portrays a high-ranking man. The extremely dry environment of the cave where it was stored helped to preserve it.


On View, Gallery 137


Arts of Africa




Male Figure


Mali (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Wood, pigment, and sacrificial material


98.5 × 15.5 × 13.9 cm (39 1/4 × 6 1/8 × 5 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Janie Brill Memorial Fund; Major Acquisitions Centennial Endowment

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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