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Divination Object (Gbaule)

This object is composed of a great variety of materials deliberately combined so as to create a frightening and otherworldly effect. The slits in the clay above the inset cowrie shells make a second set of eyes, a reference to supernatural vision. Gbaule are divination objects used to determine the causes of illness and to identify and execute witches, thereby protecting the community from harm. A male diviner holds the gbaule in his hands while in a trance. He is asked questions, and the movement of the gbaule to the left or right indicates an affirmative or negative response.

Catalogue Description:
The humanoid face is made of clay with aluminum eyebrows and a ridge on the forehead. The eyes are of cowry shell. A band of orange pigment extends across the eyes. The face is attached to a rattan structure with a loop at the lower end. The back side is covered with leather and a loop with cloth to which cowry shells are attached. The coiffure of the face is composed of tufts of cow's tail hair, feathers, and heads of rice. The four teeth are pieces of glass. Condition: stable but fragile.


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