Portrait of Sogolon, Mother of Sundiata, Founder of the Empire of Mali
This torso, from the region of the ancient city of Djenné, depicts Sogolon, mother of Sundiata Keita (ca. 1217–1255 CE), founder of the Mali Empire. Sogolon was a real woman immortalized in the Epic of Sundiata. Over time, myth imbued her with supernatural abilities, including invincibility and the ability to transform herself into a buffalo-woman.