Human Figure (Bocio)

early 20th century

African Art

A bocio, literally "empowered cadaver," is related to Vodun, a religious belief in mysterious forces that govern the world and the lives of those who reside in it. Vodun sculptures not only protect humans but also empower them. Cords and binding are prominent features of bocios and possibly are references to the trauma resulting from violence suffered in the slave trade that, for centuries, affected the area of their production and use. Bocios offer a potent strategy in responding to difficulty and threatening social conditions.


Wood, fiber, and feathers


5 5/8 × 1 5/8 × 1 1/4 in. (14.29 × 4.13 × 3.18 cm)

Credit Line

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

Accession Number





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.



Sotheby's, New York, Important Tribal Art, November 29, 1984, lot 277
Charles B. Benenson Collection, donated to Yale University Art Gallery in 2004
  • 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), 271, ill.
  • "Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222, ill.
  • Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2004): ill. cover.
  • Sotheby's, New York, Important Tribal Art, African, and Oceanic Art, Including the Collection of Mrs. Wilfredo Lam, sale cat. (November 29–30, 1984), lot 277, ill.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

figures (representations), human figures (visual works)

Technical metadata and APIs


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