This figure is stylistically associated with objects attributed to the Jenne culture of Mali’s Inland Niger Delta, particularly the site of Jenne-jeno, which flourished during the ninth century but was abandoned by 1400. Thermoluminescent tests for it, however, have indicated a date of 1645 +/- 165, suggesting that the figure is unlikely from Jenne-jeno itself. Since few Jenne figures have been found in controlled archaeological excavations, the extent of their use is unclear, but they may have served as devotional or commemorative images. The depiction of an equestrian may refer to the glories of military success as well as the power and wealth associated with individuals who owned horses, animals that were and are very expensive to maintain in this part of the continent.
Jenne culture, Mali
H. 9 5/8 (24.5 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 76.98.1