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Equestrian and Four Figures

A work made of terracotta.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of terracotta.


Probably late 12th-15th century


Bougouni region, Mali
Northern Africa and the Sahel

About this artwork

Terracotta figures like this set might have served a ritual purpose. The adornment on the figures, including the hairstyles and possible scarification marks, suggest sta- tus and wealth. The horse-and-rider with a knife strapped to his left arm may evoke the significant role that cavalry played in the expansion of empires and control of trade routes in West Africa during past centuries.
The descriptive term Bankoni derives from the village where archaeologists unearthed similar objects from the 1950s onward. Located near Bamako, Mali’s capital, this region is today inhabited by the Bamana people, whose ancestors are believed to have made works in a similar style. These five figures were not excavated in a scientific context but recent tests and scans have helped to confirm their age and regional origins.


On View, Gallery 137


Arts of Africa




Equestrian and Four Figures


Mali (Object made in)






Horse and Rider: 70 × 21 × 48.5 cm (27 1/2 × 8 1/4 × 19 in.); Figures: 28.5 × 14.6 × 19.3 cm (17 1/4 × 5 3/4 × 7 5/8 in.); 46 × 14.7 × 19 cm (18 × 5 7/8 × 7 1/2 in.); 44 × 10.2 × 18.5 cm (17 1/4 × 4 × 7 1/4 in.); 28.5 × 12.7 × 18.4 cm (17 3/8 × 5 × 7 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Ada Turnbull Hertle Endowment

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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