Ivory Coast standing bird
Detail: Wood carved standing bird from Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast standing bird. Senufo statuary varies a great deal, from as little as 6” tall to 6 foot tall. One Senufo Tribe Bird sculptureof the most popular is the Pombibele ‘those who give birth’, or Rhythm pounder as they are fondly referred to by westerners. They were used during various rituals that took place before and after the burial of a deceased Poro society elder. Initiates who visit the house of the deceased carry them, and one is sometimes placed in a shroud alongside the corpse at the public ceremonies that follow. The initiated would then, while accompanying the corpse to its burial place, swing and pound the Pombile on the ground in time with the solemn music of the Poro society. At the burial site, shortly before nightfall, once the soil is heaped over the grave, a male initiate may in a final and decisive gesture leap onto the mound and beat the ground seven times. This pounding is to ensure the spirit of the deceased does not linger in the vicinity, but undertakes its journey to the ‘village of the dead’. Another famous piece of Senufo statuary is the poropianong, meaning ‘mother of the Poro child,’ many of the secret Poro societies would have one of these large standing bird sculptures. The statue was kept in the sacred forest, and was used in rites of passage for the admission of initiates to the final phase of training.