Matriarchy: The Veiled Traditions Of Poro Society

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Tiffany Shao Professor Abíọ́dún African Art May 4 2016 Matriarchy: The Veiled Traditions of Poro Society Behind every original piece of artwork, there is a creation story that weaves together the purpose of the art piece, the symbolism demonstrated, and the supporting culture that cultivates it. The intricately carved artwork of the Senufo figure is of no exception; each statue evokes not only a sense of appreciation for the statue’s aesthetic appeal but also reveals the veiled nuances of the Senufo culture. Although much of the Senufo Poro culture remains undisclosed to outsiders of the community, this paper will aim to utilize the analysis of the “Figure of Ancient Mother” to provide an original contribution regarding the Poro …show more content…

The recurrence of this small child demonstrates the importance of Senufo culture of the feminine role of motherhood, and the centrality of the female domestic sphere in Poro culture. Interestingly enough, the child she holds does not rest comfortably in her lap; instead, she actively holds him within her hands. Again, this serves to emphasize the dissonance in sizes of the two characters and illuminates her feminine authority. Furthermore, because she is actively holding the child, rather than resting him gently on her knee, it seems that she is holding him for a specific purpose. Her downturned head, and protruding mouth support the conclusion that she is passing on wisdom towards the small child-like figure she holds, which is consistent with the “milk of knowledge” she is said to …show more content…

Perhaps much of the mystery of Senufo and Poro art contributes to the foreign intrigue to better understand the world of the Poro. Without this understanding, one would foolishly lump together these varying art pieces under the umbrella term “African Art,” and appreciate it merely for its aesthetic value. Much culture and intended meaning would be lost in this translation; one must learn the artistic language of the Senufo people to fully capture the essence and symbolism of the art. To truly understand and value a piece of art for its full worth, one must first learn the creation story behind it, taking in the nuanced symbolism of the rich culture that birthed the art

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