Box for Ifá Divination Paraphernalia (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

early 20th century
Tools, Equipment, Utensils
Nigeria, Republic of Benin
Overall: 24 1/2 × 19 3/4 × 16 1/4 in. (62.2 × 50.2 × 41.3 cm)
This box stored a diviner’s accessories. The carved images on its lid refer to aspects of Orúnmìlà (god of wisdom and order) and Èsù (god of chance and uncertainty), who serve as mediators between the human and spiritual realm. These two opposing forces—order and chaos—are represented through scenes of action versus a scene of stability.
In the top section of this box’s lid, Èsù flanks a mounted warrior: on the left, he sounds his flute, announcing the sacrifice being prepared in the lower panels; on the right, he puffs on a pipe, producing smoke that suggests confusion. In contrast with these scenes of action is the figure of a kneeling female at the lower center—a paragon of serenity, balance, and reverence.
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
African Exhibition. Lynchburg, Virginia: FineArts Center. 29 April- 8 May 1979.

"Spirit of the Motherland." Roanoke: Museum of Western Virginia. September 1995- January 1996. Newport News: Peninsula Fine Arts Center. January- May 1996.
Branch, Muriel Miller. Fine Arts and Crafts: African-American Arts. Brookfield, Connecticut: The Millbrook Press, 2001. (illus. 8, p. 8-10)

Fagg, William. Yoruba: Sculpture of West Africa. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982. (illus. 8, p.68)

Robbins, Warren M. and Nancy Ingram Nooter. African Art in American Collections: A Survey. Washington D. C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989. (illus. 1543, p.560)

Woodward, Richard B. African Art: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2000. (p. 26-27)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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