Posted in Art & Culture, Bamako, Life, MALI


Sculpture is the act and art of making three-dimensional works of art such as statues. A statue is an image such as a person or animal that is sculpted in a solid substance. Sculptures may be carved, chiseled, modeled, cast, or constructed. They can be made of many different materials such as wood, stone, clay, metal, sand, ice, and even balloons.

Sculptures are often thematic on topics such as wildlife, religion, tradition, or fun. Many people create sculptures from found objects such as recycled materials. New technologies are used to create interesting artwork that includes computers, holograms and light.

Wonderful examples of sculpture can be found throughout the world. Sculpture has been an important part of culture since ancient times.




Chi Wara

The art of Mali is somewhat more abstract and its artwork focuses significantly on the genital area, whereby the male and female forms are artistically compared through an abstract perception. The penis is also a symbolisation and celebration of the male figure, which is culturally, the dominant sex in Mali.

The Bambara people adapted many artistic traditions and began to create display pieces. Before money was the main drive of creation of their artworks these tribes used their abilities solely as a sacred craft for display of spiritual pride, religious beliefs and display of tribal customs.

The stylistic variations in Bambara art are extreme sculptures, masks and headdresses display either stylised or realistic features, and either weathered or encrusted patinas.


The Dogon’s doors

Bambara are commonly known as farmers. The Chi Wara headdress is part of Bambara culture in Mali and Chi Wara represents the animal of tillage. The animal portrayed is mythical, often made from the parts of other animals. The masks usually come in sets – Male and Female. This is because equilibrium or balance is is an important aspect of its use.  The headdresses are used in dances at important times of the farming year – sowing, harvest etc. The male dancers dance in pairs; male and female, and wear the headdress tied on their heads with flowing grass robes.



There are three major and one minor type of Bambara mask. The first type, used by the N’tomo society, has a typical comb-like structure above the face, is worn during dances and may be covered with cowrie shells. The second type of mask, associated with the Komo society, has a spherical head with two antelope horns on the top and an enlarged, flattened mouth. They are used during dances, but some have a thick encrusted patina acquired during other ceremonies in which libations are poured over them. The third type has connections with the Nama society and is carved in the form of an articulated bird’s head, while the fourth, minor type, represents a stylized animal head and is used by the Kore society. Other Bambara masks are known to exist, but unlike those described above. Bambara carvers have established a reputation for the zoomorphic headdresses worn by Chi Wara society members.