Female Figure (Jo Nyeleni)

late 19th–early 20th century

African Art

This statue represents a beautiful young woman of the Jo, an association that offers social guidance and teaches models of behavior, into which both women and men were initiated. Initiations took place every seven years. Figures like this one were carried around by male initiates while they traveled for several months to neighboring villages, advertising their new adult status and their desire for marriage. The figures embody the physical attributes considered to be attractive to young Bamana women. Anointed with oil, the sculptures represent women in their ideal state, at their highest degree of physical attractiveness.


Wood, aluminum, and encrustation


20 1/4 × 5 1/8 in. (51.5 × 13 cm)

Credit Line

Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection

Accession Number



19th–20th century


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 records is ongoing.



Mathias Komor, New York, prior to 1981; Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn, by 1981–2004; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • 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), 150, ill.
  • "Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222.
  • Roslyn Adele Walker, African Women / African Art, exh. cat. (New York, NY: African-American Institute, 1976), 10, no. 1, fig. 2.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

figures (representations), sculpture



Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

View IIIF manifest

The International Image Interoperability Framework, or IIIF, is an open standard for delivering high-quality, attributed digital objects online at scale. Visit iiif.io to learn more

Linked Art

API response for this object

Linked Art is a Community working together to create a shared Model based on Linked Open Data to describe Art.