Equestrian figure

Senufo peoples
late 19th–early 20th century
more object details

General Description

The sculptor of this figure emphasizes the horseman's aggressive power by giving him both a warrior's and a hunter's hat and bared teeth. The figure's arched back creates the illusion of forward movement while his fanlike hands, which hold neither a spear nor reins, signify control of his horse using his strong limbs and spiritual powers.

The introduction of the horse by Muslim traders had great influence on peoples of the Sahel and savannah regions. Calvary augmented the force of armies and created powerful fighting machines. Horse imagery thus became a recurring motif in art. Among the Senufo, the Sandogo women's divination society used equestrian figures because they visualize power, wealth, and status, and add to the mobility of the diviner's bush spirit contacts.

Excerpt from

  • Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.