Thursday, February 28, 2008

CARVED TOTEMS


I delivered The Hunter and The Hunter's Wife to the gallery last week feeling a little apprehensive about showing a totem adorned with a cat skull. My husband found the cat skull many years ago. Like most little boys (and some girls) he collected old bones, snake skins, birds nests etc. and kept them in a rusty biscuit tin under his bed. The other day after much foraging he unearthed them from the bottom of an old school trunk and presented them to me. I was thrilled to say the least.
The Bamana Hunter's shirt is the inspiration behind the Hunter's series that I am creating now. In Mali, Bamana men wear these shirts to protect themselves from the wild animals and dangerous spirits in the forests. They are often embellished with beads and amulets, mirrors, shells, claws and leather pouches containing herbs or magic. These provide the "spiritual armour" the hunter feels is necessary during the hunt. Some of the shirts are over embellished and these are only worn during ceremonies and celebrations. This is a genuine Bamana hunting shirt made from mud cloth.