Lot: 31

Large bird sculpture "porpianong" ("poropia nong")

Côte d'Ivoire, Senufo

Provenance Size Hammer price
Louis Pieter Cornelis (Lode) van Rijn, Galerie Kephri, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (ca. 1970)
Munich Private Collection
H: 51.6 inch;
B: 20.3 inch
14000 EUR

wood, pigments, insect caused damage, base

According to Garrard, these large bird sculptures were the property of secret "poro" male societies and were kept in the sacred grove of the "poro". They were used in the rites for the admission of initiates to the final phase of training.

The sculpture is named (among other things) "poropia nong", which means literally "mother of the poro child". The statue is thus a primary symbol of the "poro" leadership, indicating the authority of its elders. At the same time, it served as a protector of the young "poro" initiates ("children of the poro").

The bird sculpture, which is generally referred to older Senufo as "sejen" or "fijen", which simply means "bird", does not necessarily represent a specific type of bird. However, the large curved beak suggests a hornbill, which is of particular importance to the Senufo. He is associated with intellectual power, significant of the knowledge the elders hope to impart on the young initiates.

The bird is also sometimes called "kasingele", "the first ancestor", which may refer either to the mythological founder of the human race or to the ancestral founder of the sacred forest.


Phillips, Tom (Hg.), Afrika, Die Kunst eines Kontinents, Berlin 1996, p. 457 Gagliardi, Susan, Senufo unbound, New York 2015, p. 80, ill. 43

ADHRC: 0072566