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Children of Poro (A Pair of Ritual Pounders)

Children of Poro (A Pair of Ritual Pounders)
Children of Poro
(A Pair of Ritual Pounders)
Ivory Coast, Senufo People
Wood
(71.141 a and b)
Gift of Edward Merrin

Figures such as these are made for use by societies called Poro. In various dialects, a single such figure is known as "person of Poro," "child of Poro," "bush spirit," or simply "pounder." They are used mainly, but not exclusively, in the various rituals that take place before and after the burial of a deceased Poro elder. They are carried by initiates who visit the house of the deceased. One is sometimes placed beside the shrouded corpse at the public ceremonies that follow. They then accompany the corpse to its burial place and are swung and pounded on the ground in time to the solemn music of the Poro orchestra. When the interment is complete and the soil rapidly heaped over the body, a male initiate may leap onto the grave with a pounder and beat the soil seven times. This pounding ensures that the spirit of the deceased person does not linger in the vicinity but passes on its way to the "village of the dead." The pounders may also be used in supplementary rituals on ensuing days.

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