Senufo "tefalipitya" staff, Ivory Coast
47" tall
wood, pigment
early to mid 20th century
well worn patina from extensive use


The tefalipitya ('hoe work girl') staff honors the champion
cultivator, and by extension, the residential kinship unit (
whose pride and prestige he upholds. The champion cultivator
as culture hero is a theme celebrated by an entire complex
structures, praise poems, musical and dance arrangements and
funeral rituals. The sculptured figure always represents a
pitya -
a young unmarried woman at the peak of her physical beauty.
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