Ram Rod Puppet Head (Bakòrò, Sogokun)

Accession Number

Ram Rod Puppet Head (Bakòrò, Sogokun)


Artist Nationality

Object Creation Date
circa 1950

Medium & Support
wood, sheet metal, glass and cloth

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

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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

2 Related Resources

(Part of 4 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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