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HOME : African & Tribal Art : African Sculptures : Zaramo Terracotta Shaman's Mixing Bowl
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Zaramo Terracotta Shaman's Mixing Bowl - PF.4459
Origin: Eastcentral Tanzania
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 9.25" (23.5cm) high x 6.5" (16.5cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Occasionally, we are confronted with a work of art that totally challenges our perceptions. Everyone has a stockpile of images acquired from childhood, and when an object from another culture is presented, sometimes our senses recoil in surprise and shock. To learn about such objects is not only an experience in art, but a new way of looking at the world.

This phenomenal bowl was used by a medicine man to mix his potions. Most African cultures relied upon an individual experienced in the knowledge of herbs, roots, berries, (the fauna and flora of his region), for their daily medical treatment. It was and is an extremely exact science, requiring years of training. The herbalist understood the properties of plants for curing and treating everything from muscle aches to serious diseases. In addition, and of great importance, he was adept at interrelating the physical body with spiritual forces to achieve a harmonious balance between the two. Such expertise was highly valued and the power these individuals possessed can be seen in the objects created to help them in their work. This bowl is quite formidable, and was probably intentionally made to be so. The studs covering the bowl may act as a warning to the inexperienced not to touch. The female figure on the lid appears related to fertility rites, and perhaps the medicines mixed were for women's complaints. Whatever its specific use, such an object will always intrigue and amaze. The dried herbs still left inside act as a potent reminder of the mysteries of other cultures.
- (PF.4459)


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