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Arts of Africa

Bochio are very powerful and very personal objects. An individual may make one for protection, to harm an enemy, or to ensure personal success. The bochio is made in secret, so that only the owner knows its composition and purpose. Some materials, however, have consistent functions. This piece, for instance, includes a duck's bill, believed to contain the power to silence one's enemies. Using the long, pointed iron base, the individual plants the bochio in the ground in front of a shrine or in some other spiritually significant location.

MEDIUM Wood, iron, duck’s bill, human jawbone, fiber, organic matter
  • Place Made: Benin
  • DATES 19th century
    DIMENSIONS 15 x 3 x 3 1/2 in. (38.1 x 7.6 x 8.9 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wooden power figure (bocio). Twin figures carved on platform base which tapers and is placed in a ferrule. Duck skull placed on front of torso, human jawbone(?) attached encrusted heavily with undetermined substance, perhaps blood. Necklaced with cowrie shells and string.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Fon. Bocio, 19th century. Wood, iron, duck’s bill, human jawbone, fiber, organic matter, 15 x 3 x 3 1/2 in. (38.1 x 7.6 x 8.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 49.45. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.49.45_print_threequarter_bw.jpg)
    IMAGE threequarter, CUR.49.45_print_threequarter_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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