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Currently shown

Divination Basket (ngombo ya cisuka)

Location

ANGOLA

Culture

Chokwe

Title

Divination Basket (ngombo ya cisuka)

Date

Before 1902

Materials

Vegetable fibre, various materials

Dimensions

11.2 cm (h.), 18.2 cm (diam.)

Credits

Gift of Mrs. Jean M. Collins and family in memory of the Rev. Dr. S. Ralph Collins, inv. 1992.F.151a-b

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Only women past childbearing age make divination baskets. Their transformation into powerful objects takes place at a ceremony during which a diviner “steals” the basket (leaving behind the agreed-upon payment) and is cursed by the basket maker. Acquired over time, small natural and carved objects form a microcosm. During divination, the diviner shakes the basket and makes his prophecy based on the position of those objects. A worn-out divination basket is buried as it remains dangerous. In this case, did the European identity of the collector (the danger from then on threatening an outsider and not a member of the community), the need for money, or the conversion to Christianity of its owner play a role in the departure from tradition?

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