Vessel Lid

Accession Number

Vessel Lid


Artist Nationality
Yoruba (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support

9 13/16 in x 7 1/16 in x 8 1/4 in (24.92 cm x 17.94 cm x 20.96 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. Daniel and Sandra Mato

Subject matter
Although it is missing the bottom portion, this vessel for the stones of Eyinle (called awo ota Eyinle) was popular among Yoruba-speaking peoples near the Nigerian city of Oyo and further west. Eyinle (also spelled Erinle and Erinile) was the orisa (god) associated with river stones, sand, and river water. In the bottom of the vessel would be placed water, sand, and stones from a river, while the small bowl on the lid would hold a kola nut or cowrie shells placed there to communicate with Eyinle. In that aspect, the figure on the lid represents the follower of Eyinle, not the orisa. Although the vessel holds river stones, the ase (power or life force) of Eyinle, the lid also signifies the power of the orisa. The protrusions along the side arches represent the river stones and the blue pigment refers to royalty. The arches refer to the crowns of Yoruba kings, which have a conical shape that reflect the ori (head) as the source of a person's ase.

References Cited:
Drewal, Henry John, John Pemberton and Rowland O. Abiodun. 1989. Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought. New York: Center for African Art.
Lawal, Babatunde. 2012. Visions of Africa: Yoruba. Milan: 5 Continents Editions.
Thompson, Robert Farris. 1983. Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy. New York: Random House

Physical Description
A circular, slightly domed disc topped with four arches and the figure of a human head. The front arch is wide, with a round indentation, and the arches to either side have two small, pointed protrusions. The top of the figure's head is decorated with geometric patterns. The back of the head is connected to the back arch by a smaller arch. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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communication (function)
personal shrines

& Author Notes

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