Bowl

Accession Number
2017/1.669

Title
Bowl

Artist(s)
Yoruba

Artist Nationality
Yoruba (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support
wood

Dimensions
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
bowl

Collection Area
African

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
communication (function)
divination objects
knowledge
power

2 Related Resources

Meet the Orichas (Yoruba objects and Afro-Caribbean religion)
(Part of: F20 Khan - AAS 411 - Caribbean Religions: Creole Spiritualities from Vodou to Islam)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved