Visions of Africa
The Bamana (or Bambara) are members of the Mande culture, a large and powerful group of peoples in West Africa.The artistic tradition of the Bamana is rich, filled with pottery, sculptures, beautiful bokolanfini cloth, and wrought iron figures fashioned by blacksmiths. They also have extensive masking traditions, which are used as a form of social control and community education.
This volume focuses on the aesthetic qualities of the masterpieces of Bamana religious art in Mali and resituates them in their social, aesthetic and cultural context.The emphasis is on pieces used in rites of passage (Ntomo, funerals), or by agricultural cooperatives (ton, démè), and initiation societies (Korè, Jo, Komo, Kono,Tyiwara, Namakoro).The pieces whose beauty is sublime to Western eyes are just as marvelous in the field, precisely because they stand at the crossroads of religion, aesthetics and politics.
Jean-Paul Colleyn, anthropologist and documentary filmmaker, is Head of Studies at the école des Hautes études en Sciences Sociales, and has taught at New York University. He is the author and director of thirty documentary films, several books and many articles on anthropological subjects in Mali, where he has been doing fieldwork since 1972.