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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Benin Wooden Diviner Bowl
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Benin Wooden Diviner Bowl - PF.5708
Origin: Nigeria
Circa: 20th th Century AD
Dimensions: 10" (25.4cm) high x 4.875" (12.4cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: UAE
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This sculpture is imbedded with a magical power. Kola nuts, a symbol of fertility, would have been placed inside the bowl as an offering for the gods. This would have been one of the most sacred gifts offered to the gods. The carving depicts a horse and a rider. The rider, a symbol of nobility and prestige, sits upon a saddle placed upon the squat horse. His feet rest in stirrups, he holds the reigns of the woven bridal in his left hand and a whip in his right. The rider’s oversized head dominates with its long, pointed beard and arching brow. Wide- eyed, the rider appears to be quite content, almost smiling. The rim of the bowl that grows out of the rider’s head has been decorated by a series of diamond shapes carved in low relief. This motif no doubt accentuates the importance of the offering cup. This diminutive sculpture has a power far greater than its size suggests, a power to invoke the will of the gods and the favor of ancestral spirits. - (PF.5708)


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