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Ram Rod Puppet Head (Bakòrò, Sogokun)

Accession Number
1971/2.22

Title
Ram Rod Puppet Head (Bakòrò, Sogokun)

Artist(s)
Bamana

Artist Nationality
Bamana

Object Creation Date
circa 1950

Medium & Support
wood, sheet metal, glass and cloth

Dimensions
6 5/16 in x 6 11/16 in x 9 7/16 in (16 cm x 17 cm x 24 cm);13 1/8 in x 6 11/16 in x 9 1/16 in (33.3 cm x 17 cm x 23 cm);6 5/16 in x 6 11/16 in x 9 7/16 in (16 cm x 17 cm x 24 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase assisted by the Friends of the Museum of Art

Label copy
March 28, 2009
These whimsical puppet heads are featured in Sogo bò, a masquerade performed by youth organizations in south central Mali. Active since the late nineteenth century, puppet masquerades have provided young performers with a rich inheritance of plots and characters from which to create their own repertoires. Indeed, Sogo bò remains an important dramatic venue through which the young can explore the creative tensions between traditional values and contemporary experience.
The human head may be used to impersonate legendary characters, or satirize everyday life and relationships to the community. The ram and the hyena are among the oldest and most favored characters. With its short upright ears and prominent teeth, this hyena is a typical example of Bamana stylization, while the placid face and curving horns of the ram are a more naturalistic rendering. During performance, the heads are mounted on poles attached to sheets of cloth that drape over the performers.

Subject matter
This rod puppet ram's head is a character featured in the Sogo bò, a puppet masquerade performed by Bamana youth organizations. Still active today, Sogo bò--literally, “the animal comes forth”-- is an important dramatic venue for youth to explore and comment on the tensions between traditional values and contemporary experience. Of all the characters created for the Sogo bò, animals such as the ram and hyena (see 1971/2.21) were among the oldest and continue to appear in different guises.

Physical Description
A naturalistic rendering of a ram, with striations incised into the top of the head and down the first third of the horns which sweep forward in a natural curve toward the nose. Eyes inlaid with green glass, and muzzle is overlaid with strip of metal. Jaw articulates, tied with cord. Cloth ears are attached and dangle on either side of head. Wood is unpainted.

Primary Object Classification
Puppets

Primary Object Type
marionette

Collection Area
African

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
heads (animal components)
metal
rams (animals)
rod puppets
wood (plant material)

1 Related Resource

Satire
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved