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Head for a Body Puppet

Associated with puppet performances in central Mali that are put on by youth associations as both entertainment and commentaries on social and political life, this head of a puppet represents a female character known as Yan Ka Di, “this place is good,” identified by the janus-faced head out of which additional female heads appear. A cloth costume and wooden hands, manipulated by the puppeteer, would have completed the puppet. During the colonial period, Yan Ka Di frequently appeared in performances, and, though the character is not frequently performed today, it is made for sale to tourists, among whom it is still popular.

Bamana peoples, Mali
Head for a Body Puppet
Collected 1934–35
Wood, metal, cloth
H. 57 ¾ in. (146.7 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 77.87