The art of Mali

The art of Mali takes many diverse forms, but it all celebrates the bonds of the communities that create it.

13th century-present

videos + essays

We're adding new content all the time!

Saving Timbuktu’s manuscripts
Saving Timbuktu’s manuscripts

A heroic effort to save and preserve Mali's long manuscript tradition.

Lost History: the terracotta sculpture of Djenne Djenno
Lost History: the terracotta sculpture of Djenne Djenno

Are these little-understood figures representations of diseased people, or an attempt to ward off illness?

Seydou Keïta, <em>Untitled</em> (Seated Woman with Chevron Print Dress)
Seydou Keïta, Untitled (Seated Woman with Chevron Print Dress)

Studio photography produced mementos for the growing middle class: Keïta’s Bamako studio was abuzz with clients.

Kòmò Helmet Mask (Kòmòkunw) (Bamana peoples)
Kòmò Helmet Mask (Kòmòkunw) (Bamana peoples)

Intended to intimidate, this headdress was used by a member of the powerful Kumo society of blacksmiths.

Male and Female Antelope Headdresses (Ci wara) (Bamana peoples)
Male and Female Antelope Headdresses (Ci wara) (Bamana peoples)

These headdresses celebrate the divine Ci Wara, half man and half antelope, who introduced humans to agriculture.

Mask (Kanaga) (Dogon peoples)
Mask (Kanaga) (Dogon peoples)

Kanaga masks were traditionally worn during the dama, a six-day long funerary ritual for Dogon men.

Seated Figure (Djenné peoples)
Seated Figure (Djenné peoples)

This hunched figure is a large part of the material record of an egalitarian society that disappeared around 1400.

Dogon Couple (Dogon peoples)
Dogon Couple (Dogon peoples)

Is this a couple, or could this pair relate to a story from Dogon cosmology?

Great Mosque of Djenné (Djenné peoples)
Great Mosque of Djenné (Djenné peoples)

The largest mud-built structure in the world, the Great Mosque of Djenné has been reconstructed multiple times.

Selected Contributors