Figure, Pomdo or Nomoli



Figure, Pomdo or Nomoli




ca. 16th Century


West Africa, Sierra Leone


3 15/16 x 2 3/8 x 2 15/16 in. (10 x 6 x 7.5 cm)

Object Number



Small stone figures found in Mende fields and used today as protectors and oracles are among the earliest art objects from Sierra Leone. The figures are attributed to the Sapi and Bullom cultures because they bear a striking stylistic resemblance to the well known "Afro-Portuguese" ivories, dated to the mid-16th century.

Mende invasions into the coastal areas once occupied by the Sapi in the mid-sixteenth century, forced the Sapi to leave their stone figures behind. It has been suggested that these sculptures represent royal figures and were once placed upon ancestral altars. Today these figures, known as nomoli by the Mende and pomdo by the Kissi, are placed in the rice fields to ensure good crops. They are also consulted on important occasions. This figure exhibits the features of the coastal style due to its closed mouth, immense ears, and hands clutching beard/chin, seated position, and muscular legs.

Credit Line

Ex coll. William S. Arnett


Divine Intervention: African Art and Religion, Michael C. Carlos Museum, February 5 - December 4, 2011


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2006.
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On View



“Figure, Pomdo or Nomoli,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed September 18, 2020,

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