Original artwork.
“Dununba: Barati Dancer with Djende” - 19 x 24 in. (48 x 61 cm), graphite on bristol.

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Dununba: Barati Dancer with Djende

19x24 graphite on bristol.

Dununba is a family of rhythms played on the traditional Malinké drums: djembe, sangban, kenkeni, and dununba. The dance that accompanies the dununba rhythms (referred to by the same name) is performed by the strongest men of the village, who dance with members of the age group to which they belong. Day-long feats of endurance and stamina, the events were once used to settle disputes between the age groups, in sometimes bloody contests — but today are showy (and impressive) events in which it is the dancing of the men alone that proves their strength. In modern times, the dance has become popular in urban areas, and both men and women dance the dununba.

Here, a member of the barati age group dances the Dununba with the traditional axe (called djende in Malinké).

Drawing on Culture

An Artist’s West Africa Travelogue


In Drawing on Culture, Kobrenski shares his artwork, stories, and insights about culture and worldviews with the keen eye of an anthropologist so that we might, in turn, see our own cultural worldview with new eyes.

More than thirty new artworks from his time in Guinea are compiled here alongside his own field notes and essays. His portrait drawings inspire conversations about diversity, tradition, and why ancient ways of knowing are now more relevant than ever.

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“Dave Kobrenski is a gifted artist and musician, and a better anthropologist than many of the PhDs I know. Here is a fine text that depicts people as they are, illustrates their essence, and demonstrates the importance of appreciating, without appropriating, their lives and ways of being.”

Katherine Donahue, Ph.D, Professor Emerita, Anthropology