A Pair of Male and Female Rhythm Pounders (Tombibele)
19th century - 20th century
Wood with traces of paint
53 1/8 in. x 47 1/2 in. (134.9 cm x 120.65 cm)
Bryn Mawr College
37 (Sotheby's Lot Number)
Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts
Senufo, Malian, West African, African
Pairs of rhythm pounders traditionally are the property of Senufo male initiation societies (Poro), and are removed from a society's sacred grove to aid in teaching and rituals. The objects are used during processions of initiates or during burial rituals, when they are swung rhythmically from side to side to call ancestral spirits to the rites.
The gendered figures represent the primordial couple: Katyleo is the ancestral mother figure, who has protective and magical powers as life-giver and nurturer, and Maleo is the male counterpart. With their relaxed stance, both muscular figures convey a sense of balance, symmetry, and serenity. The verticality of the sculpted pieces suggests their connection to both the earthly and spiritual realms.
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- Refers to the cultures of the continent of Africa, which is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.
- Sculpted figures of the Senufo people of Africa. They are mostly of women, though men, couples, and equestrian figures are also known, and all have thick, heavy bases. Using them in various ceremonial contexts such as funerary rites and Iô society initiations, participants grasp the figures by their arms and rhythmically pound the ground with them.
- Referring to the sex that normally produces eggs or female germ cells.
- Referring to the sex that in reproduction normally produces sperm cells or male gametes.
- Style and culture of Mali in West Africa, either the ancient empire of the 13th and 14th centuries or of the modern republic founded in 1960.
- Refers to the styles and culture of a group of closely related peoples of northern Ctte d'Ivoire and southeastern Mali.
- Styles and cultures from the region comprising the westernmost area of the African continent, defined by the United Nations as including the modern nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
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99.3.45.a-b In the Neufeld's Home
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
Worlds to Discover: 125 Years of Collections at Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr College
, 9/24/2010 - 5/28/2011
Owner Name: Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953
Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
Important Tribal Art
New York, NY, 1989
Figure Number: 37
and Emily Croll.
Worlds to Discover.
Bryn Mawr College.
Bryn Mawr, PA, 2010
Page Number: 31
"African Heritage Document and Research Center."
(Accessed June 11, 2020):
Record No.: 0072284.
If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:
<ref name=BMC>cite web |url=http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/objects-1/info/145768 |title=A Pair of Male and Female Rhythm Pounders (Tombibele) |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=4/11/2021 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>
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