The Bamana antelope figure, made in Mali by a human being, from wood, trade cloth, animal hide and hair, is the hands-down treasure of my folk art collection. It wasn’t expensive. It’s in poor condition. The wood is so ancient that it has virtually no moisture content; thus causing its fragility. But it speaks to me as no other object in my collection does. I rescued it years ago, from “Antika” in Greenwood, a neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. — It’s amazing how much African art winds up in antique stores. This figure would be worn as a headdress during fertility ceremonies. The much-hoped-for result would be for the grass to grow. The antelope eat the grass; grass is necessary for all life to be sustained
The object is so dry it probably weighs under a pound.
I have several Bamana masks, which incorporate hand-tooled metal. While I cherish them, I don’t know the story behind the masks; haven’t been able to unearth that (yet). The walls in my senior apartment don’t do justice to these masterpieces.
The bus seen in the photo’s margin is a Haitian “tap-tap” bus. I have three. They’re cut and pounded out of whatever metal the artist is able to find, and then enameled. I just love things made by the human heart, mind and hand. Many objects in my collection come from places which have suffered devastation from natural disasters or war; but the spirit of the artist will not be vanquished.