Puppet | Flefeni

Stick puppet, 1970 - 1987

About the object

The figure has a reduced, block-like body, hollowed out at the back and made of hard wood. The arms are made of paler-coloured wood and have been set into recesses at the sides and fastened with iron nails. The conical breasts are set relatively low. The neck is long, above which there is a narrow face with a sweeping hairstyle. Above the round forehead is a broad bridge under which the long, narrow, straight nose is situated. The hairstyle on the top of the head is piled up very high. The figure has been heavily decorated: copper or brass strips and discs with punched rows of dots and zigzag lines adorn the face, the hairstyle, the neck and the wrists. Pompoms made of red cotton threads are attached to the nose and in three holes in each ear. Five cowries hang from the bar above the forehead on strings each decorated with two yellowish-red glass beads. The body is clothed in a dress of hand-woven cotton, decorated with a brown diamond and dot pattern using the flafani technique (plant decoction and mud bath); two holes for the breasts are cut in the straight-cut dress. The figure is known as a tchemeni, representing a married older woman wearing a traditional dress. Translation: Timothy Connell

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