Divination Figure (Primary Title)

Unknown, Chinese, ca. 1900-1500 (Artist)

Educational
19th-20th century
Adja
wood, glass, plastic, metal, leather, feathers, string, various applied substances
Republic of Benin, Togo
Overall: 19 1/4 × 9 3/4 × 10 1/4 in. (48.9 × 24.77 × 26.04 cm)
Overall (a: figure without base): 17 3/8 × 9 3/4 × 9 1/4 in. (44.13 × 24.77 × 23.5 cm)
Overall (b: embellishments): 8 1/4 × 9 3/4 × 9 1/4 in. (20.96 × 24.77 × 23.5 cm)
Overall (c: embellishments): 9 15/16 × 2 3/4 × 3/4 in. (25.24 × 6.99 × 1.91 cm)
Overall (d: embellishments): 11 1/4 × 3 1/2 × 2 3/4 in. (28.58 × 8.89 × 6.99 cm)
Overall (e: embellishments): 6 1/2 × 3 3/8 × 1 3/4 in. (16.51 × 8.57 × 4.45 cm)
2002.526a-e
The Adja people practice a system of divination involving proverbs, songs, and stories through which the individual can develop awareness of their fate. Lessons stemming from the rituals are expressed by a wide array of natural and man-made materialsapplied to a sculpted figure. Thus, this mysterious sculpture served as a visual expression of insights gained during many divination sessions. The newest additions address recent situations, while older ones become deeply embedded reminders of pastissues and challenges. Each divination sculpture is unique, for the signs and symbols applied to a figure are as different from person to person as are human fingerprints.
Kathleen Boone Samuels Memorial Fund
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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