West Africa

Displaying 1 - 50 of 673
Catalog # Name Description
1 Basket Basket lined with cowrie shells. The cowrie shell is a globally recognized object. Cowrie shells have been historically used as currency, jewelry, and religious accessories. In Ancient Africa, these shells were highly regarded as symbolizing the strength of the ocean as well as the power of destiny and prosperity. In some African cultures, the cowrie shell was regarded as a symbol of fertility. Waistbands with cowrie shells were worn with hopes of increasing fertility. African cultures used cowries as currency from the 15th century into the early 1940’s. Their usage at this point was discouraged and outlawed but they continued to be used for bride price payment, accumulated in bags and given to the bride’s father during their ceremony. The basket in our collection remains very clean, with the white cowrie shells each sewn onto the leather. This indicates that this basket was not as much for functional use as it was a decoration or symbolic item for protection, strength, and fertility. Source: Onyioha, Amaka N. Afrostyle Magazine. Accessed October 13, 2020. http://www.afrostylemag.com/ASM11/significance_of_cowrie_shells.php. (Basket) image
2 Currency Cold forged iron wicket style currency (Currency) image
3 1968.10.0002 Sculpture Benin bronze depicting an enthroned Oba dressed in full ceremonial regalia for the Ugie Erha Oba. Figure sits erect, head tilted back about 40 degree angle. Arms hang away from body, with elbows slightly bent. Hands are flat, with palms facing inward, fingers together, and thumb spread away from other digits approx. 20-30 degrees. Feet, with heels approx. 1/2" apart, are placed flush against the throne, point forward, and hover approx. 1/8" above the ground. The figure's clothing replicates garments worn by the Oba for the religious ceremony venerating ancestral kings, Ugie Erha Oba. This includes a tunic, undertunic, headdress, and various ornaments. The actual headdress, overtunic, and many of the ornaments represented in the statue are made from woven coral beads, the actual undertunic is cloth, and the other ornaments are constructed from a variety of materials. The undertunic is in no way deliberately depicted; its implied shape simply provides the base for the tunic. 1968.10.0002 (Sculpture) image
4 1968.10.0005 Mask Burnt orange mask, black hair area and top of forehead horn and upper lip, red lower lip and red spots on cheeks, ears, and forehead. The mask is red inside. 1968.10.0005 (Mask) image
5 1968.10.0006 Mask, Ritual White polychrome mask with painted black details. Attached to the edges of the mask is a white cotton cloth, attached with nails. The eyes are cut out and the mouth is carved in. The detail of the hair protrudes on either side of the forehead. 1968.10.0006 (Mask, Ritual) image
6 1968.10.0007 Figurine Koranko wood carving of female figure. 1968.10.0007 (Figurine) image
7 1968.10.0008 Statue Wooden statue with elongated, thin chest, and arms clasped in the center of the stomach. The elongated face is adorned with two horizontal etchings on either cheek and five vertical etches on the chin. Attached to the bottom of the feet is a square base, approximately 3 cm in height. 1968.10.0008 (Statue) image
8 1968.10.0009 Figurine, bird Carved bird out of a light wood with burnt design and on circular, movable base. 1968.10.0009 (Figurine, bird) image
9 1968.10.0010 Mask, Ritual Limba tribe mask. Black, with red cloth strip down center of face. White cowry shells sewed on red strip. 1968.10.0010 (Mask, Ritual) image
10 1968.10.0011 Mask Large Ibibio mask. There are cross hatched carvings on both cheeks. The nose is large with two small holes for the eyes on either side of the top of the nose. The lips protrude out from the face and the ears are carved in relief. There are a few chips out of the chin of the mask and two holes near the ears for costume attachment. 1968.10.0011 (Mask) image
11 1968.10.0013 Instrument An Kon Koma. Marimba instrument of Temne tribe. The language around the opening is Temne and says, "Great is the love I have for thee." It is made from a hollow box, with a semi circular opening. In front of the opening are metal spokes that, when tapped, create sound. 1968.10.0013 (Instrument) image
12 1968.10.0016 Mat Six irregularly-pointed star design, star natural-colored. Color: OR, BK
13 1968.10.0020 Basket Two parts. a. Basket, b. Lid. Numbered bottom of basket and lid.
14 1968.10.0021 Basket Textile weave basket. It has a black, red, and yellow patterning.
15 1968.10.0025 Mat Used as lid or as bellows. Orange, black, and natural color. Large natural color star with 8 points on orange background. Color: OR,BK,TN
16 1968.10.0026 Mat Four-pointed star, natural, edged in black, on orange background. Color: OR,BK,TN
17 1968.10.0027 Mat Six-pointed natural star on orange background. Natural and black inner circle. Color: OR,BK,TN
18 1968.10.0028 Mat Six-pointed black star on orange background. 3 single circles of natural, 2 double circles of orange and black, center natural. Color: OR,BK,TN
19 1968.10.0030 Basket Made in Yonibana area. Numbered bottom of basket and lid. a. Basket, b. Lid.
20 1968.10.0031 Basket Made in Yonibana area.
21 1968.10.0049 Ngoni String instrument, 6-strings. 29 3/4" overall length: 16" head, 26" shaft extending for 12" under parchment of head Head consists of wood bowl 2 3/4" wide, 3 1/4" deep, 16" long, covered with parchment extending 1" -1 3/4" over sides and tacked to wood. 6 green gut strings extend from leather thong attachment on shaft to wood with carved string-slits in hole of head. (Numbered shaft near head.) 1968.10.0049 (Ngoni) image
22 1968.10.0050 Carving Small soapstone carving, squatting figure, arms bent at elbow, hands at face, hunch-backed, somewhat laterally compressed. 1968.10.0050 (Carving) image
23 1968.10.0051 Mask White painted face mask. The facial features are small and detailed in the center. The eye holes are cut out and the lips are painted red. There are two vertical yellow stripes on either cheek. The entire face is outlined in yellow paint, the proper right ear has been broken off. At the top of the mask is a half oval extension outlined in brown paint. There are two box nails at the top of the mask, on the proper left side. 1968.10.0051 (Mask) image
24 1968.10.0053 Sculpture Benin bronze: standing figure with scepter, Forward side of crown on figure's left, missing. Left leg not complete from foot to skirt. Made by lost wax method. 1968.10.0053 (Sculpture) image
25 1968.10.0054 Mask Long face, prominent teeth. Back is hollowed out. Hole at the top of head with a loop of straw in it. Big forehead, raised eliptical eyes, part of nose missing, 2 scarification marks on each cheek, open mouth with filed teeth flattened at tips. Horned headdress. A small face with closed eyes carved into forehead of mask (3"x3.5"). 1968.10.0054 (Mask) image
26 1968.10.0065 Carving Carved bull horn depicting a bird, possibly a crane, with curved triangular cut outs representing the tail and legs. The eyes are inlaid with white horn. There are carved lines down the spine of the bird. 1968.10.0065 (Carving) image
27 1968.10.0066 Mask, Ritual Antelope-human figure with reddish brown face with black highlights. There are two horn-like figures coming out either side of the chin, with dyed black stripes. The cheeks have a single horizontal etch. At the hairline, there is a band with a black circular adornment laying in the center of the forehead. The top of the head has very detailed, braid-like etchings. In the center of the top of the head is a triangular arch with a teardrop shaped detail at the top, with two black striped horns on either side. It is made out of a very heavy red wood. 1968.10.0066 (Mask, Ritual) image
28 1968.10.0067 Carving Mahogany carved bust, polished with black shoe polish. Color: BK 1968.10.0067 (Carving) image
29 1968.10.0068 Carving Mahogany carved bust, polished with black shoe polish. Color: BK 1968.10.0068 (Carving) image
30 1968.10.0069 Carving Limba tribe wood carving, bust. The neck is elongated and the hair is carved to look like it is pushed back and braided. 1968.10.0069 (Carving) image
31 1968.10.0084 Carving Carved bull horn depicting a bird, possibly a crane, with curved triangular cut outs representing the tail and legs. The eyes are inlaid with white horn. There are carved lines down the spine of the bird. 1968.10.0084 (Carving) image
32 1968.10.0089 Scoop One-half gourd bowl or scoop. 1968.10.0089 (Scoop) image
33 1968.10.0090 Scoop One-half gourd bowl or scoop. 1968.10.0090 (Scoop) image
34 1968.10.0092 Scoop One-half gourd bowl or scoop. 1968.10.0092 (Scoop) image
35 1968.10.0093 Bowl One-half gourd bowl or scoop. 1968.10.0093 (Bowl) image
36 1968.10.0103 Bowl Calabash bowl.
37 1968.10.0104 Bowl Calabash bowl. 1968.10.0104 (Bowl) image
38 1968.10.0105 Bottle Palm wine container made from a large circular gourd. The handle is made of twine. 1968.10.0105 (Bottle) image
39 1968.10.0106 Jug Palm wine jug made out of a large circular jug with a long spout that is wrapped in twisted twine. 1968.10.0106 (Jug) image
40 1968.10.0107 Bottle Often attached to tree to collect wine. Made from a circular gourd. The handle is made from twine. 1968.10.0107 (Bottle) image
41 1968.10.0108 Cup Made from section of bamboo; used with tubelike straw or as a cup. Twine is attached at the top through two holes. 1968.10.0108 (Cup) image
42 1968.10.0109 Mortar Tobacco mortar of light-colored carved wood. One end is hollowed out. 1968.10.0109 (Mortar) image
43 1968.10.0110 Mortar Heavy dark colored carved wood. One end is hollowed out in order to grind spices. 1968.10.0110 (Mortar) image
44 1968.10.0112 Rattle Woven basket type with handle.
45 1968.10.0115 Stool Wooden stool, carved from one piece of wood. The stool is comprised of four legs that connect in the center with a conical seat. 1968.10.0115 (Stool) image
46 1968.10.0129 An saka Beads on cord. Top one called jade there. a. Gourd, b. Handle. 1968.10.0129 (An saka) image
47 1968.10.0130 An saka An saka. See 68.10.129 for how to play. Green and black beads on white string. No bead at top. 1968.10.0130 (An saka) image
48 1968.10.0131 An saka An saka. Mende musical instrument. See 68.10.129. Decorated with cowry shells and brown seeds on cord. No bead at top of cord. a. gourd. b. handle (numbered on reverse side of a cowry shell at broad end.) 1968.10.0131 (An saka) image
49 1968.10.0132 Drum Wooden drum with ropes along the side to supply tension to drum head. There is mixed fabric around the drum head and the rope attaches 2/3 down the side of the drum. 1968.10.0132 (Drum) image
50 1968.10.0133 Thumb harp Musical instrument made from Care food can with umbrella irons. 1968.10.0133 (Thumb harp) image