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HOME : African & Tribal Art : African Sculptures : Idoma Wooden Divination Tray
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Idoma Wooden Divination Tray - PF.2638
Origin: Central Nigeria
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 10" (25.4cm) high x 18" (45.7cm) wide
Catalogue: V19
Collection: African
Style: Idoma
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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The Idoma, who account for a mere 250,000 of Nigeria’s 115,000,000 population, dwell on the eastern banks of the fork of the Niger and Benue Rivers. This strategic location places them at the geographic hub of several ethnic groups in Nigeria, whose sculptural traditions vary widely. As a result, the Idoma artistry reflects the complex history of a region in which art styles are sometimes adopted by one group from another. This carved wood divination tray reflects the complexity of the Idoma art, both in its craftsmanship and symbolic imagery. Here we see a slightly square-shaped tray that has been skillfully carved at an elevated height, giving it the appearance of a bowl whose curved outer rim emphasizes a vertical axis. This verticality is further emphasized by the stylized figure placed atop the tray. Here the figures arms rise in a dramatically upward sweep, with splayed fingers grasping its ornately coiffed head. As we lift the figure from the tray a triad of small compartments are revealed, no doubt serving a ritual function known only to the diviner. At the same time a pair of sculpted feet rises from the tray, once again, drawing our attention upward to the realm of the sacred. A block placed between the figures feet serves as a focal point for the figure, perhaps aiding in the ritual of invocation. This potent, Idoma divination tray gives dramatic expression to a culture whose artistry is intricately woven in the fabric of a land as varied and complex as life itself. - (PF.2638)


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