Title: Animal Effigy (Horse)

Date: ca. 1850
Culture: Djenné (Mali)
Material: Earthenware
Size: 27.25” H x 33” L
Credit: Gift of Ben Pickard
On View: Yes

Horse effigies like this are a common part of West African art. Since the fourteenth century, these figures have been accompanied by equestrians. These additional figures probably symbolized a member of royalty, a warrior, or other heroic individual. 

Carbon-dating revealed that this figure is a nineteenth century version of earlier effigies. It’s significantly heavier than its predecessors. This is likely due to a change in the material and firing process. Earlier ceramic figures had to be hollow, or else they would explode during the firing process. However, by the nineteenth century, potters had access to better firing methods. This meant, solid, and less time-intensive figures like this could be made.