Lot: 230

101st Auction

Pair of figures "pombibele" of the "poro" society

Côte d'Ivoire, Senufo

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Joan Didion (1934-2021), New York City, USA

Didion was an American writer and journalist. She is considered one of the pioneers of New Journalism along with Gay Talese, Hunter S. Thompson, and Tom Wolfe.
H: 41.3 inch (male);
42.1 inch (female)
15000 EUR
plus 27 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, traces of insect caused damage, rest. (female), base

Known as "pombibele" (sing.: "pombia"), or "children of poro", such imposing male and female figures were the major sculptural forms commissioned by the "poro" association. Only rarely are they preserved as a pair !

The "pombibele" were presented at funerals and commemorative ceremonies for distinguished association members of the "poro" to commemorate the primordial couple from the Senufo creation myth. On these occasions, "poro" members displayed "pombibele" figures in architectural settings or tapped them on the ground to the rhythm of drums in a procession. Hence the name "rhythm pounders".

Sculptural pairs honored the deceased as they entered the society of ancestral spirits and recalled their lineage extending back to their earliest ancestors.

Although "poro" is essentially a male institution, the most important ancestor invoked is a woman, the head of the "poro" chapter's founding matrilineage. Senufo artists often rendered female representations taller than their male companions.

All large Senufo statues are generally attributed to the "poro" men's secret society. The "poro" oversees the initiation of adolescent boys and offers its members advice and help in all social and political matters.