African Art
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Rhythm Pounder in the Form of a Female Figure (Doogele or Poro Piibele)

late 19th–early 20th century

Wood

104 x 22.5 x 15 cm (40 15/16 x 8 7/8 x 5 7/8 in.)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
2006.51.60
Rhythm pounders are ritual objects of a small subgroup of artisans, the Celibele, who make a living as rope makers and tanners. Rhythm pounders are used principally during a burial, where they are usually held by the arms. Men would lay them on the left and right side of the corpse wrapped in cloths, as masked dancers performed around the corpse while it reposed in the village square. As the corpse was carried to the burial ground, the elders would take the tall wooden figures and pound with them on the ground in front of them, as if to clear a pathway for the deceased person. Later in the procession, the two rhythm pounders would be placed on top of the bundle, and, after the burial, returned to the secret grove where they were kept.
Geography: 
Made in Guinea Coast, Ivory Coast
Culture: 
Senufo, Kulibele (carvers) and Celibele (users) subgroups
Classification: 
Sculpture
Status: 
On view
Bibliography: 

Susan Vogel, African Sculpture: The Shape of Surprise, exh. cat. (Greenvale, N.Y.: C. W. Post Gallery, 1980), 12, no. 19, ill.

Susan Vogel and Jerry L. Thompson, Closeup: Lessons in the Art of Seeing African Sculpture from an American Collection and the Horstmann Collection, exh. cat. (New York: The Center for African Art, 1990), 135, fig. 62.

“Acquisitions 2004,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2005): 54, ill.

Till Frster, “Smoothing the Way of the Dead: A Senufo Rhythm Pounder,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2005): 54, ill.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222.

Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 175, 381, pl. 158.

Frederick John Lamp, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 58, 107, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.

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