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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Yoruba Wooden Divination Bowl Supported by a Kneeling Woman
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Yoruba Wooden Divination Bowl Supported by a Kneeling Woman - PF.3269
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 20th th Century AD
Dimensions: 9.5" (24.1cm) high x 6.5" (16.5cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood


Location: Great Britain
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Description
The Yoruba are the largest of all the sculpture producing tribes of Africa. Besides a great variety of local cults, Yoruba religion and art are characterized by a number of universal cults of major deities who began as nature gods. People of ancient Nigeria built shrines to worship these gods, and the shrines were elaborately decorated and furnished with various sculptural objects. This beautiful wood carving of a woman carrying a bowl is a fine example of such shrine sculptures. It is called the Arugba sculpture, which means "bowl carrier". Such bowls usually contained symbolic objects such as Neolithic celts or sacred palm nuts that were used in rituals and rites. This wooden sculpture portrays a female figure in kneeling position, with a bowl on her head. Two decorated columns also support the bowl, while the female figure holds onto the columns. Skillfully carved, the voluptuous femininity and decorations, such as the facial scarification, are accentuated to create visual aesthetics as well as functional quality. A portion of a clasp on the bowl also indicates that it once had a lid attached to it. As we look at this beautiful sculpture that once contained magical substances, we are taking a glimpse of the ancient shrine that was filled with spiritual power. - (PF.3269)

 

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