About this artwork
Terracotta figures like this set might have served a ritual purpose. The adornment on the figures, including the hairstyles and possible scarification marks, suggest sta- tus and wealth. The horse-and-rider with a knife strapped to his left arm may evoke the significant role that cavalry played in the expansion of empires and control of trade routes in West Africa during past centuries.
The descriptive term Bankoni derives from the village where archaeologists unearthed similar objects from the 1950s onward. Located near Bamako, Mali’s capital, this region is today inhabited by the Bamana people, whose ancestors are believed to have made works in a similar style. These five figures were not excavated in a scientific context but recent tests and scans have helped to confirm their age and regional origins.
Currently Off View
- Arts of Africa
- Equestrian and Four Figures
- Horse and Rider: 70 x 21 x 48.5 cm (27 1/2 x 8 1/4 x 19 in.); Figures: 28.5 x 14.6 x 19.3 cm (17 1/4 x 5 3/4 x 7 5/8 in.); 46 x 14.7 x 19 cm (18 x 5 7/8 x 7 1/2 in.); 44 x 10.2 x 18.5 cm (17 1/4 x 4 x 7 1/4 in.); 28.5 x 12.7 x 18.4 cm (17 3/8 x 5 x 7 1/4 in.)
- Ada Turnbull Hertle Endowment