Dyonyeni ceremonial figure
The Bambara, numbering 1.5 to 2.5 million, are the largest ethnic group within Mali. They occupy the central part of the country in an area of savannah. They live principally from agriculture, with some subsidiary cattle rearing in the northern part of their territory. The Bambara live in villages with a chief at the head, whose position is determined by kinship ties within the community. The Bambara believe in existence of spiritual forces, which are activated by individuals who are capable of creating an atmosphere of harmony. For the most part, Bambara society is structured around six male societies. The Bambara maintain many of their ancient religious rites. The dyonyeni female figures are thought to be associated with either the Dyo or the Kwore society and are used during dances to celebrate the end of the initiation ceremonies. They were handled, held by dancers and placed in the middle of the ceremonial circle.