Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Yoruba (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support

5 ⅛ in x 5 7/16 in x 5 3/16 in (13 cm x 13.8 cm x 13.2 cm)

Credit Line
Gift and partial purchase from the estate of Kurt Delbanco in honor of Nicholas Delbanco

Subject matter
In the process of divination, called Ifa in the Yoruba language, a babaláwo (diviner or "father of ancient wisdom") used sixteen sacred palm nuts (ikin) on a tray (opon Ifa) to reveal the forces at work in a client's life. While Orunmila, the orisa (god) of wisdom oversaw the process of Ifa, it was necessary to honor orisa Eshu, as he was the messenger between those in the world of the living and orun, the realm of orisas, ancestors, and other spirits. When not in use, the ikin would be stored in a raised bowl, called agere ifa.  The mudfish supporting the bowl may refer to Olokun, an orisa of the sea. 

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.

Physical Description
Small bowl supported by two fish on a circular base. The two fish are curved so that the head, tail, and one fin support the bowl while the middle of the body rests on the base. The other fin connects the fish's tail to the head. The edge of the bowl and the base are decorated with incised diagonal marks. 

Primary Object Classification
Wood and Woodcarving

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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communication (function)
divination objects

& Author Notes

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