We can compare this figure to another one published in Bamana, The Art of Existence in Mali (Colleyn, J.-P., Museum Rietberg, Zürich, 2001, fig.131) which belongs to the New Orleans Museum of Art. These figures both exhibit abstract bodies and a beautiful patina testifying of their great age.
Jonyeleni figures are used every seven years during the jo ceremony which needs yearly preparations. It is forbidden to say the word jo the day of its celebration. A complex and highly sacred ritual, it is based on a fundamental moral code which is owned by the elder woman of the lineage. The initiation lasts almost seven months.
These sculptures recall the young women's perfect physique and are usually adorned with clothes, beaded or metallic jewels and scarifications. The generous forms of their body are amplified, stylized and represented by cubes, cylinders, ridges and planar surfaces. Jonyeleni represents the original condition of women. Every seven years, accompanied by the rhythm of drums and trumpets, they are carried by the jodenw, the initiated, from village to village in order to spread the moral values of the jo.