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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Yoruba Terracotta Vessels : Yoruba Terracotta Lid of a Diviner's Bowl
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Yoruba Terracotta Lid of a Diviner's Bowl - PF.4870
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 9" (22.9cm) high x 8" (20.3cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Terracotta

Additional Information: closet AF12
Location: United States
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The Yoruba believe the cosmic universe is based on opposing forces. The task of the diviner is to harmonize these contradictory energies into a perfect whole. It is only then he will be able to control spirits for the benefit of the client consulting him. There is no more perfect symbol of this 'union' than man and woman, and this is what we see on this very dramatic lid. Surrounding the conical shape are two couples who are facing outwards with their arms stretched holding onto braided 'ropes'. Each one is quite detailed, revealing their genitalia and clothing in the form of a checkerboard pattern for the male, and a series of horizontal lines for the female. They appear 'strapped' onto the lid, as if it is a great sphere whirling in space in which they occupy the middle area, above the animal kingdom of lizards and snakes on the bottom rim. This complies with the image of the orisa-gods, or deified ancestors who exist between the other world of the creator god olodumare and the lower world of the living. Given its religious connotation, this lid and container may have been placed on an altar. Upon the elemental substance of clay, an artist has depicted his people's conception of the universe-- at peace and in perfect harmony. - (PF.4870)


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