Bamana Boli Zoomorphic Power Sculpture Mali
A mysterious creature in a stylized and unidentified animal form. The core is likely made of wood which has been repeatedly covered with thick layers of clay impregnated with sacrificial and organic materials such as millet, chicken or goat's blood, kola nuts, libations, tree bark, roots, horn, animal bones etc. The true contents of a Boli figure are generally ambiguous because of the secrecy of the Kono society. Consistent with the known motif, this figure shows four legs and a hump on the top. Several cracks in the surface suggest significant age.
Such figures were found among the Bamana people of Mali known for their prolific production of masks and figures. These figures called Boli (plural Boliw) were used by the male Kono society. They were handled only by the chief or a priest because of their sacred character. Boliw served as receptacles for spiritual forces and honored for the well-being of the community. As a power figure, a Boli was kept in a community shrine and sacrifices (chicken's blood, millet beer) were offered to the spirit imbued in this figure. It was said that Boli symbolizes the "universe and the harness spiritual power"