Miniature bill hook

Lega peoples
19th–20th century
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General Description

Bwami ritual objects include figures and miniature nonfunctional tools carved out of ivory, bone, and wood. Such objects have specific names and meanings, which without field documentation cannot always be identified with confidence. The meaning of a billhook knife is known. It refers to a proverb: “He who has not many [people] cannot clear the tangle of lianas.” It expresses mugusu, a key Bwami concept about diligence and cooperation among many people to succeed in Bwami and in life in general.

Adapted from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.