Hunter's Shirt (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

19th-20th century
strip cloth, various attached talismans
Overall: 33 1/2 × 50 in. (85.09 × 127 cm)
Not on view

Elaborately embellished shirts like this one are worn by Bamana hunters as testaments to their skill and bravery. Many different hunt-related items are sewn to this shirt, including animal tusks, claws, skins, and horns; leather packets enfolding verses from the Qu’ran; mirrors; and protective potions.

When the Bamana dress for the hunt, they wear simpler clothing that facilitates stealth and speed. Spectacular shirts like this one are prestige garments that great hunters wear to display their extraordinary prowess.

Hunters form an elite class among the Mande-speaking people of western Africa, including the Bamana. For example, Sunjata, the renowned Lion King, and his leading general, Fakoli, were both renowned hunters.

Gift of Robert and Nancy Nooter
Look Here: Feast, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, March 16 - June 25, 2006

Spirit of the Motherland, Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke, VA, September 1995 - January 1996; Peninsula Fine Arts Center, Newport News, VA, January - May, 1996

Secrecy: African Art that Reveals and Conceals, The Museum for African Art, New York, NY, March 1993

Beckwith, Naomi, and Valerie Cassel Oliver. Howardena Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen. Chicago, IL: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 2018. (llus. fig 13, p. 64)

Nooter, Mary H. Secrecy: African Art that Conceals and Reveals. New York: The Museum for African Art, 1993. (No. 33, p. 104).

“The Ancient Art of Mali.” Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. (Poster)

Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.