Smithsonian Collections


Image for Drum
Data Source
National Museum of African Art
Label Text
Female power among the Baga is demonstrated in the use of drums that are carved in the form of a kneeling woman who supports the instrument. This object celebrates the beauty, hard work and social contribution of women in Baga society. Owned by the women's A-Tëkän organization, such drums are played by women at annual initiations, the funerals of association members, their daughters' weddings and the reception of distinguished visitors.
The beautiful young woman supporting the drum reflects the female role as "bearer" and of "bride" in Baga culture. Women carry on their heads huge clay vessels filled with water and large baskets of rice. The figure is dressed as a bride wearing necklaces, armlets and bangles, crisscrossed cords attached to a chain of metal bells at her waist, multiple rows of flat waistbeads and seed rattles around her ankles.
Wood drum supported on the head of a kneeling female figure, all carved of a single piece of wood. The swelling body of the drum leads to an openwork support structure and a tubular base. It rests on the head of the female figure holding a vessel. She has an elaborate incised hairstyle and carved necklace, armlets, bangles, crisscrossed cords attached to a chain at her waist, carved multiple rows of flat waist beads and seed rattles around her anklets, which terminates into a fragmented circular base. There is a metal earring inserted into her proper left lobe.
Jacques Boussard, Paris, before 1967 to 1990
Exhibition History
African Mosaic: Selections from the Permanent Collection, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 19, 2013–August 12, 2019 (installed November 5, 2014–July 9, 2019)
Wedded Bliss: The Marriage of Art and Ceremony, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, April 26-September 14, 2008, no. 51
Published References
Ader Picard Tajan. 1990. Arts Primitifs, Afrique, Oceanie. Auction catalogue (December 18). Paris: Drout Montaigne, no. 26.
Freyer, Bryna M. and Christine Mullen Kreamer. 2010. "The Collection of the National Museum of African Art Smithsonian Institution." Sculpture Review LIX (1), p. 22.
Lamp, Frederick. 1999. Art of the Baga: A Drama of Cultural Reinvention. New York: Prestel for The Museum for African Art, p. 124, no. 98.
Leuzinger, Elsy. 1972. The Art of Black Africa. London: Studio Vista, no. E25.
Leuzinger, Elsy. 1979. Art de l'Afrique Noire. Barcelona: Ediciones Poligrafa, nos. 92-95.
Musee de l'Homme. 1967. Arts primitifs dans les ateliers d'artistes. Paris: no. 79.
National Museum of African Art. 1999. Selected Works from the Collection of the National Museum of African Art. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, p. 33, no. 14.
Richter, Paula Bradstreet (ed). 2008. Wedded Bliss: The Marriage of Art and Ceremony.
Salem: Peabody Essex Museum; Hanover: distributed by University Press of New England, p. 65, no. 51.
Baga artist
Early 20th century
Credit Line
Purchased with funds provided by the Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program and gift of the Annie Laurie Aitken Charitable Trust, the Frances and Benjamin Benenson Foundation, David C. Driskell, Evelyn A.J. Hall Charitable Trust, Mr. and Mrs. Robert
Wood, pigment, hide
H x W x D: 113 x 31.1 x 36.8 cm (44 1/2 x 12 1/4 x 14 1/2 in.)
Musical Instrument
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National Museum of African Art Collection
Object number
Female use
Object Name