Senufo Pombia / Deble Figure
During funeral ceremonies, Senufo Pombia / Deble figures are carried by the upper arms, swung from side to side and pounded on the ground regularly.
Origin: Ivory Coast / Mali
Approx Age: Mid – later 20th Century
Materials: wood, metal base
Dimensions cm: 143 tall
Ref. Number: 1033
An exquisitely styled Senufo Pombia / Deble figure or pounder, the carver of this piece had a real eye for beauty and style. Serene looking face, elongated neck where it shows it has been held, lovely lines as the shoulders round to the arms that flow to the waist to where the short legs mould to the pounding block. It looks to have had something wrapped or tied around the knees as there is unusal wear in this area. The back and the back of the arms are patinated from pounding and rubbed on the person over the years. A real gorgeous piece of Senufo art..
The rhythm pounder (deble / Pombia) from the Senufo people of the Ivory Coast was once a crucial prop in both commemorative ancestral rites and in initiations of adolescents to adult society; it was also a benevolent symbol of fertility and a conduit to the departed.
The few known male and female rhythm pounder pairs are thought to represent the primordial couple, referred to as ‘Pombibele’, which means “those who gave birth.
These pounders were traditionally used at funeral ceremonies for Poro society members. In some areas, they are actually pounded, at others, they are gathered at the centre of the ceremonial grounds.
During funeral processions, male and female Pombia figures are carried by the upper arms, swung from side to side and pounded on the ground regularly. This is to drive away evil spirits thus creating a smooth and safe passage for the deceased’s spirit into the land of ancestors. The initiates carrying the figures then circle the elder’s body three times (symbolising the three stages of Poro initiation).
Photo taken from http://anthromuseum.ucdavis.edu
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