Nelmasi, ca. *1922 +1988, Sienra, Burkina Faso


Nelmasi, born around 1922, was a Numu-carver who lived in Sienra/Sieniana, a village about 10 km south Banfora in Burkina Faso. He blonged to the Gué or Gouin, a small sub-group of the Senufo, who live in Burkina Faso. A Numu is, like the Fono or the Koulé, a profession group. They are known to work with dry wood from the "Triini" tree only and they carve with hot blades. Nelmasi did carved statues, masks and other objects of daily life on demand only, he never held stock. This couple was collected by Karl-Heinz Krieg in 1968 in Sienra.


After carving, these statues got treated with flames and then sanded. The surface looks, and smells burned. There are no traces or facettes of carving. Especially the mouths do show burned edges, caused by hot blades.


Herta Haselberger did a documentation in 1969, when she visted Nelmasi in Sienra. Nelmasi was also well known and documentated by Karl-Heinz Krieg.


Nelmasi, also known as Yelmassi Soulama, died 1988 in Sienra.










Tugubele couple, carved by Nelmasi. Numi from Sienra/Sieniana. *1917. Collected by Karl-Heinz Krieg 1968 in Sienra.


Man: 35,0 x 10,0 x 7,5 cm, wood.

Woman: 36,0 x 10,5 x 8,0 cm, wood.




- Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, Band 94, Heft 2, Verlag Albert Limbach, Braunschweig, 1969. Herta Haselberger. Seite 208.

- Wenn Brauch Gebrauch beeinflusst, Markus Ehrhard, pages 52-55.