Sundiata

Hymn to the Bow Symbol Analysis

Hymn to the Bow Symbol Icon

Balla Fasséké composes the song “Hymn to the Bow” just after Sundiata, at age seven, wrenches the iron rod he’s using as a cane into the shape of a bow. This song is the first major record of Sundiata's exceptional feats and it follows him throughout his later exploits. The hymn is a symbol of Sundiata’s strength, and Balla Fasséké sings it for Sundiata's vast army to keep Sundiata’s power fresh in the soldiers' minds. When the hymn is written, it also foreshadows Sundiata's future skill using a bow—it is with a bow that Sundiata will kill Soumaoro, which leads to the unification of Mali and the fulfillment of Sundiata’s destiny.

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Hymn to the Bow Symbol Timeline in Sundiata

The timeline below shows where the symbol Hymn to the Bow appears in Sundiata. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Lion's Awakening
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
...twists the bar of iron into the form of a bow. Balla Fasséké sings the “Hymn to the Bow” and Sogolon sings thanks to God. The entire palace hears Balla Fasséké's song and runs... (full context)
The Names of the Heroes
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
...Mali and vows to the assembled to take back Mali. The griots sing Balla Fasséké's “Hymn to the Bow.” (full context)
The Empire
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Magic and Religion Theme Icon
...favorably, as the cocks die on their backs. The sofas advance to the sound of “Hymn to the Bow” and take the city relatively peacefully, although Kita Mansa dies. The city allies itself with... (full context)
Kouroukan Fougan or The Division of the World
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Magic and Religion Theme Icon
The festival begins. The sofas perform their war dances to “Hymn to the Bow,” and the war chiefs show off their horses' maneuvers. Sundiata smiles happily at the sight.... (full context)
Niani
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Family, Community, and the Mali Empire Theme Icon
Magic and Religion Theme Icon
...Balla Fasséké, and the crowd shouts abuse at him as he passes. The troops sing “Hymn to the Bow” as they march. (full context)