African Art

Male Effigy

late 19th–early 20th century


28 15/16 × 6 1/8 × 6 5/16 in. (73.5 × 15.5 × 16 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
In the Bahr el Ghazal region in South Sudan, famous warrior-hunters were honored a year after their burial with figurative wooden grave markers and a pile of stones. As a precondition to being eligible for such an honor, the deceased had to have killed a given number of animals or enemies and must have performed a specific feast of merit. The notches on the pole-like figure record the number of large animals, such as elephants, the warrior-hunter killed; if a man had killed a human, a full statue with carved legs would have been added to his gravesite.
South Sudan
19th–20th century

Possibly Jeremiah Cole, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn;Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


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

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2006–June 30, 2007,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 4, ill.

Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 73,79, 122, fig. 16, 23.

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.