H x W x D: 149.5 x 75 x 10.4 cm (58 7/8 x 29 1/2 x 4 1/8 in.)
Wealthy and powerful individuals in the northern Senufo region commissioned intricately carved doors as symbols of prestige. The human and animal relief-carved motifs are associated with the powers of divination, nature spirits and the supernatural held by members of Poro, a secret society. The hunter and his prey, depicted at the top, reflect the hunter's high status in Senufo culture and the hunter's privileged access to animals used in healing and other rituals. The two face masks are similar to masks owned and used by men's and women's initiation societies. At the bottom of the door, a crocodile devours a snake--a reference to aggression, sorcery and personal power. Such motifs may appear on initiation buildings or household protective shrines as a reminder that such places embody the specialized knowledge which is required to combat the evil influences that disrupt the well being of the community. As a counterbalance, the central motif is adapted from a scarification pattern adorning a woman's navel, a symbol that evokes social order as ordained by the Creator.
This door is similar to others carved in the 1920s in Boundiali by the sculptor Yalokone and his workshop. Bold shapes and deeply cut relief set against a richly textured background characterize the artist's carving style and virtuosity.
Wood door with pivot hinges in three panels from the top to the bottom with low-relief carvings and a large attached lock with a cross piece of a head and a body. The top panel has carvings of two heads flanked by equestrian figures with bow and spear. Above them are animals and one other human figure. The second panel is the largest, with a large central symbol and a boss in the center and background cross-hatching and winged animals. The bottom panel is carved with a large lizard with a snake in its mouth.
Paul and Ruth Tishman, New York, -- to 1984
Mr. and Mrs. Jean Verheyleweghen, Brussels, before 1964
Senufo: Art and Identity in West Africa, The Cleveland Museum of Art, February 22-May 31, 2015; Saint Louis Art Museum, June 28-May 31, 2015; Musée Fabre, Montpelier, France, Nov 28, 2015 to March 6, 2016
African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., February 15, 2007-March 31, 2009
Pavilion, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., October 2, 2002
For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1981
Gagliardi, Susan Elizabeth and Petridis, Constantijn. 2014. Senufo Unbound: Dynamics of Art and Identity in West Africa. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art.
Goldwater, Robert. 1964. Senufo Sculpture from West Africa. Greenwich: New York Graphic Society, no. 158.
Jenke, Veronika. 2007. Explore! African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection. Exhibition booklet. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, p. 24.
Kreamer, Christine Mullen, Bryna Freyer and Andrea Nicolls. 2007. African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, pp. viii-ix, 46-47, no. 12.
Kreamer, Christine, Mary Nooter Roberts, Elizabeth Harney and Allyson Purpura. 2007. Inscribing Meaning: Writing and Graphic Systems in African Art. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution; Milan: 5 Continents Editions, p. 57, no. 4.3.
National Museum of African Art. 2007. 2007-2008 School Calendar: Featuring the new Let's Read about Africa and the Sounds of African Music programs. Museum calendar. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, January 2008.
Vogel, Susan (ed). 1981. For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 50-51, no. 24.