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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Thoughts on Who Made the Jenne Terra-Cottas: Gender, Craft Specialization, and Mande Art History
Author:Frank, Barbara E.
Periodical:Mande Studies
Geographic term:Mali
Subjects:gender relations
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Architecture and the Arts
Women's Issues
Ethnic and Race Relations
Cultural Roles
Sex Roles
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/44093488
Abstract:The corpus of several hundred terra-cotta sculptures of the Inland Niger Delta region (Mali) identified with the archaeological culture of Jenné-jeno provides the earliest evidence of a sculptural art history for the region. To date, most scholarship has focused on speculations about the use of these figures and the significance of their distinctive gestures and unusual iconography. Because male blacksmiths are acknowledged as the sculptors 'par excellence' throughout the Mande world, there is an underlying assumption that the makers of the Jenné terra-cottas were also men. And yet it is women - often the wives of blacksmiths - who dominate the craft of pottery production throughout the region. This paper examines gender biases within the current state of Mande art history with regard to these terra-cotta traditions, and then explores the issue of artist identity for clues to the emergence of gender-specific craft specialization in the Mande world. It concludes that it is likely that women were the producers of the vast quantity of domestic pottery known from archaeological contexts. It is also likely that they were the producers of ritual pottery, and it is at least possible that they had a hand in the production of the terra-cotta statues. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]