Lot: 203

101st Auction

Female figure "jo nyeleni"

Mali, Bamana

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
German Collection H: 27.6 inch 2000 EUR
plus 27 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance


"Nyeleni" figures are property of the "jo" - society. They are used during "numu jo" initiation performances that take place every seven years. During the performance, the initiate children are "killed" and fully formed men are "reborn" into the community as "children of jo" ("jodenw").

The new initiate then spent the next few months traveling to neighboring communities, spending two to three nights in a village while dancing and singing to display his knowledge of "jo" and to earn gifts of money or food.

"Jo nyeleni" figures were carried by the dancers during the performances or placed in the background as a kind of backdrop. They represent the ideal image of a young woman at the peak of her physical bloom. The figures were intended to increase the visual appeal of the performance and to convey the suitability of the initiates as potential husbands.