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Ancestral carving shaped like hornbill bird, as used by the Senufo

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of Ivory Coast, West Africa

Ancestral carving shaped like hornbill bird, as used by the Senufo
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This figure is thought to represent the mythical founder of the human race, existing in the form of a hornbill. It was placed on the head of new members as they joined a secret men's society called the Korogho Society.

Carved from a single piece of wood, this hornbill is shown with rectangular wings outstretched. Three snakes, another item of symbolic significance in Senufo culture, are shown on the front of the wings. The underside of its base is hollow.

The ancestors have traditionally been revered in Africa south of the Sahara, and called upon to help the living. The hornbill, whose names include 'kasingele' - 'the first ancestor', is connected with the origin of the Senufo people.

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