The Senufo are well known for their elegant sculpture, which is often associated with the Poro, important men's and women's religious society. These figures, often ornamented by body scarification, elaborate coiffures, and jewelry, represent idealized female beauty. This object, called a deble, was used at Poro festivities, such as initiations and funerals. Deble are held by their upper arms and pounded on the ground to mark a rhythm for dancers. The worn arms on this piece show it was used repeatedly.
Wooden female figure with short legs and feet sunk into a heavy cylindrical base. Hands rest on thighs. Dark surface with a smooth and polished patina; the arm area, by which the figure is held when in use is a lighter color from wear. The figure wears a pendant necklace, one bracelet on each wrist, and one arm ring on each upper arm. There are incised straight lines on cheeks, on upper portion of each breast, and on abdomen which is pointed. The face is flat and heart shaped with heavy lidded eyes and a notched mouth. There is a notched v shaped band decorating the forehead. The ears are flat discs and she has a hair-crest with slightly upward turned braid at the forehead. CONDITION: Crack on left side of the head extending from top of hair crest to neck. Two checks on left side of torso in under arm area to waist. Check on lower part of left arm. Crack on left side of cylindrical base from left leg to bottom of base. Some checking on right side of hair crest. Top of hair crest has been nicked. Figure is mounted on a modern black metal stand.