Fish Devouring a Human Figure
circa 11th-17th century
Mali: Inland Niger Delta Region
3 x 5 x 16 in (7.62 x 12.7 x 40.64 cm)
Museum purchase, Robert P. Gordy Fund
Fish figure prominently in the creation stories of people from this area, however fish imagery in art is rare. The Bozo people are considered to be the indigenous fishing peoples of this region.
Their stories include tales of appeasing the various inhabitants of the waterways including hippopotamuses, crocodiles and fish. Another tale from the Mande peoples tells of ancestors who took the form of fish.
This sculpture depicts a fish devouring a human figure whole, possibly alluding to sacrifice.