Symbolism and significance of bronze rhomboid beads/pendantsfrom Jenné and the Inland Niger Delta, Mali.
Lloyd D. GrahamIntroduction
The subject of this research essay is the set of hollow bronze rhomboid (i.e.,lozenge or diamond-shaped) objects that have been recovered during excavations,official and otherwise, in the Inland Niger Delta region of Mali, West Africa.These items were cast from bronze or – more likely – brass
or lost-wax technique.
While not especially rare, this type of object is seldomdescribed in the academic or popular literature, perhaps because their enigmaticnature makes them difficult to assign to a recognized category; they have beenvariously described by archaeologists, traders and auction houses as beads,pendants, amulets, and even ‘belt finery.’ There is, however, general agreementthat they are ‘Djenné’ (Jenné) in style and origin, by which is usually meant theancient city of Jenné-jeno and its hinterland, so the objects will be referred to inthis essay by the term ‘Jenné bronze rhomboids.’
Jenné bronze rhomboids. Major (i.e. hollow) axis dimensions are a, 8.5 cm; b, 9.2 cm; c,10.5 cm; d, 11.7 cm; e, 9.8 cm; f, 8.8 cm. Some carry parallel ‘scarification lines’ on the reverse.Images used with permission of David Spetka, © Niger Bend,www.nigerbend.com