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Divination cup with caryatid support (depicting mother and child)

Divination cup with caryatid support (depicting mother and child)
19th Century - Late
Africa : Yoruba (northern)
Wood
h. 24.0 cm
1973
UEA 228

This is a cup (agere ifa) used by the diviner (babalawo) in casting the Ifa oracle. Ifa is a system of divination at the heart of Yoruba religion. Seeds would have been thrown into the cup, and their pattern interpreted by the babalawo. This cup would have been commissioned by the babalawo, and placed on the floor when in use. It has been designed to be seen from above, explaining the exaggerated features of the mother, such as the extended breasts, arms and face which would need to be visible from a distance.

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