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Power Object (Boli)

A rough, cracked surface obscures exact identification of the organic and inorganic materials assembled to create the boli (pl.: boliw), or power object, shown here. Such objects play an essential role within Bamana spiritual life. Boliw have attracted much attention from Western observers due to their amorphous forms and unusual materials. The bulbous and amorphous shape is rather idiosyncratic within the repertoire of Bamana art. Boliw are composed of a wooden armature "core" wrapped in white cotton cloth, around which clay and sacrificial materials are encrusted. This boli has four short "legs" upon which it sits, as well as a single hump rising from the top. The creature that a boli represe...

19th-first half of 20th century
Wood, sacrificial materials (patina)
36.2 x 18.4cm
Image and text © Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019

Where you'll find this

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Permanent collection