Boli Johann Levy Collection

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Jean-Paul Colleyn Introduction by Daniel Cordier

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Gourcuff Gardenigo
Territory: USA & Canada
Size: 9.5 in x 11.75 in
Pages: 176
Illustrations: 150 color
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RRP $50.00

In Mali and its neighbouring countries, a boli is a manufactured object, the source of extraordinary powers and the object of a cult. Its followers are known as Bamana, a designation that transcends all ethnic divisions. Halfway between a being and an object, the boli must be fed with sacrificial blood, and when this condition is fulfilled it may act as protector or weapon. Through an initial miracle and secret processes of manufacture and maintenance, the boli radiates a power that requires its users to handle it with caution. The thicker the encrusted patina with which it is covered, bearing witness to its age, the greater the boli's repute. For a Bamana, the world is governed by cause and effect and by the transmission of forces that the boli is able to interpret and influence. This universe is not limited to the visible world alone, but also includes the one where ancestors and sorcerers dwell and confront one other. Missionaries and Muslim conquerors saw the mark of the devil in this strange object, while it became the symbol of an era of primitivism for colonialists. Ethnologists and the artistic avant-garde, on the other hand saw past such ideas of beyond their mystery and amorphousness, recognizing boli as fascinating intermediaries between men and their environment.