by Jean-Paul Colleyn
160 pp., paperback, 63/4 x 11 in. Visions of Africa Series. New. 64 colour ills. and 15 b/w ills. ISBN 88-7439-386-5, 5 continents editions. (Spring 2007) The aesthetic qualities of the works produced by the Bamana of Mali (also known as the Bambara) have long attracted the attention of the West. The artistic creation brings into play a network of complex values that are sometimes accessible only to the initiated, but which are always deeply rooted in a system of thought and a way of life that only anthropological research in the field can attempt to approach and study. To put the works in their local context, the book looks at the initiations of young people and at funerals: fundamental rites of passage which cannot be avoided. Outstanding among them is that of the Ntomo, the society of young boys who have not yet been circumcised, and the ones linked to the Kore and the Jo, societies overseeing the passage to adulthood.
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