Baga Female Equestrian Figure, Republic of Guinea
height 34in (86.4cm)
the large female figure with pronounced breasts, wearing a braided-fiber coiffure and seated on a horse, the large ears with metal ornaments; black patina with white pigment around the eyes and traces of red paint throughout.
Rene Rasmussen, Paris
Lucien van de Velde, Brussels
William A. McCarty-Cooper, Los Angeles
Christie's, New York, May 1992 (Lot 57)
Sydney L. Shaper, New York
Frederick Lamp, The Art of the Baga, Baltimore Museum of Art, 1996, fig. 212
Museum of African Art, New York
Baltimore Museum of Art, 1996-1997
According to Lamp (1996: p. 221), "A Baga variation on Yonbofissa or Tiyambo is a full female figure mounted on a horse. A wooden peg projecting downward from the bottom indicates that these too were worn as dance headresses. Stylistically the horses resemble the horse on the base of the large timba drum from the Baga Koba, now in the Musée de L'Homme (#33.40.90) and inscribed with the date 1924. These equestrian female figures are puzzling if one reads them literally, as the Baga did not own horses and Baga women certainly did not ride them. Perhaps this too was a political statement: if the youths had not signaled clearly enough their intention to seize the reins of power by the appropriation of the spirit Tiyambo, they did so by mounting her on a horse, the borrowed sign of ultimate control."