Sigi

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  • #3004
  • African African (culture)
  • Celestial Celestial (attribute)
  • Friendly Friendly (behaviour)

The bush buffalo of the Mali tradition. He is the power and strength of men and adorns the tribe with his celestial horns, milk and hide. Sigi is one of the Sogow mythical animals of Mali folklore. The Bamana people believe that Sigi’s body represents the Niger river and his horns represent the canoes from which the Bozo fisherman of the Bamana people gather riches.

The Sogow are colourful animals who are characters in folkloric stories. These stories are reenacted in a masquerade where puppeteers become these mystical animals. These puppets are very large and can disguise a few people who all work to animate the animal to scare and entertain audiences. Such masquerades are popular with the Bamana tribe. The fisherman of the Bozo tribe are believed to have first create the exquisite masquerades.

Sigi is a colourful buffalo who like other Sogow has smaller puppets of yellow skinned people on his back. Puppeteers would animate the large body of Sigi whilst others would use rods to control the human shaped puppets on Sigi’s back. Sigi carries a farmer with his hoe, a millet pounding women, a Faro (creator god) and some musicians. Sigi dances very slowly allowing the puppeteers to animate the characters on his back. He has short interludes of dexterous movements followed by a few dips before returning to his slow movements in his dance. Solo singers and a choir of women and girls sing about the great power and beauty and beauty of Sigi, accompanied by drums, gourd rattles, and castanets.

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