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Arts of Africa

On View: African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor

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
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
    CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    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
    IMAGE side, 49.45_side_edited_version_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wooden fetish object. 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.
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