The so-called Djenné statuary emerged circa a.d. 700 and flourished until A.D. 1750. The terracotta statues were manufactured by various groups inhabiting the Inland Niger Delta region of present-day Mali, centered around the ancient urban center of Djenné-jeno. These terracotta sculptures, more than 300 of which are published in this book for the first time, express a remarkable range of physical conditions and human emotions, providing the largest corpus of ancient sacred gestures of any civilization in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Extensive fieldwork in Mali in 1982 led to fascinating discoveries about the function of this elegant and sophisticated ancient terracotta statuary as well as its religious and cultural significance.
Djenné-jeno investigates this important and mainly unpublished corpus of terracotta statuary of one of the Mande art styles of West Africa, and traces potential connections between regions in West Africa whose artistic styles were previously thought to have developed independently. Generously illustrated with hundreds of color images, this book represents a major contribution to the study of an art form virtually unknown until a few decades ago.
Featuring considerable new scholarship on over 300 ancient terracotta statues, Djenné-jeno is an authoritative volume on the history of art and religious practices in several regions of West Africa.
Bernard de Grunne’s doctoral thesis on African Art, completed at Yale University in 1987, was dedicated to this topic. De Grunne is an expert in African terracotta statuary, and is at the forefront of research regarding the role of Master Hands in African styles.