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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Benin : Benin Bronze Cup
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Benin Bronze Cup - PF.4894
Origin: Southcentral Nigeria
Circa: 18 th Century AD to 19 th Century AD
Dimensions: 3" (7.6cm) high x 4.5" (11.4cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Bronze

Location: United States
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This charming brass cup was used by a Osun specialist during Ewawa divination rituals. Osun is a spiritual power inherent in leaves and herbs. The diviner/herbalist knows where to find these plants and the formula for brewing them into magical and medicinal preparations. For divination, however, small brass images of humans, animals, cowries, and other objects are shaken in the cup and thrown down upon a drum. The resulting configuration is interpreted by the diviner related to the client's problem or request. The delightful face on the cup is probably a representation of the deity Esu who is the mediator between diviner and the supernatural world. Thick lines connecting the center extension and the lower rim divide the cup into four sections. Within two of them are shapes which resemble an abstract conception of the male sex organs. If the circle symbolizes woman, then both forces of male and female energy are brought into play during the act of divination. What is absolutely certain is the power and beauty this cup possesses, which transcends the physical world into the world of myth and magic. - (PF.4894)


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