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The Bamana people of Mali, often called Bambara, are known for the carved antelope figure called Chiwara, the original animal. The antelope represents a mythical animal that taught humans the fundamentals of agriculture. Because the Bamana believe that farming is the most important occupation, they honor the Chiwara with elaborate ceremonies. In fact, the animal is thought to have derived from a union between the Earth and a snake. This entry looks at the Chiwara figure and its representation in art.

The Legend

According to the story, the animal used its antlers and pointed stick to dig into the Earth, making it possible for humans to cultivate the land. Humans watched the Chiwara and then followed in its footsteps to create their own farms. They loved the ...

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