Senufo oddities: The Sicanchon


You might saw this little weirdo in relation to the Mossi pouppees from Burkina Faso, little dolls for children that look abstract and very futuristic.


But these small objects are from the Senufo from Burkina Faso. They are love spikes or love nails. Their name is Sicanchon. "Sican" is the word for a nail, "chon" is the name for a human.


The wedge-shaped stick does hold a head with a comb on top. They usually are made by the profession group of Fono and they come as a couple, man and woman. It can not be clarified, if a Tugubele spirit is represented.


In Senufo tradition, the bride is commonly awarded to a groom. Cases where a successful farmer, who won a competition, receives a woman as a prize is still common today. So there is a bad chance for a relationship based on true love. If a woman has already been promised to a man, her childhood friend or the real lover gives her two of these Sicanchon nails and sticks them into the mud wall of the hut where she lives in (Afrikanische Kunst, Stefan Eisenhofer und Karin Guggeis, page 51). It is a sign, that there is a true love and that the woman is admired.


Because these Sicanchons are exposed to the weather, it is rare to find a whole pair of nails in good condition. I haven't seen them often, but I never saw a faked piece or that they are made for selling as airport-art.

Sicanchon, love nail. Unknown carver.

Collected by Karl-Heinz Krieg.

14,0 x 1,5 x 2,5 cm, wood.



- Wenn Wenn Urform Form bestimmt, Markus Ehrhard, pages 88 - 89.


Images and content by Markus Ehrhard