Bowl-figure (gbene)

MAKER:
Artist

Unknown

CULTURE:
Koro peoples
DATE:
20th century
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General Description

A miniature vessel rises from the figure’s abdomen and is carved in the form of a gourd that has been cut in half. The figure, which is bearded and has minimal facial features, wears a necklace, armlets, and bracelets, and carries weapons. It represents a man of importance, perhaps an acclaimed ancestral chief. The depressions in the central crest and the cudgel slung over his shoulder may have originally held colorful seeds or fibers.

Bowl-figures representing a male or female were used to drink or pour libations of beer or palm wine during ceremonies related to masquerades, agricultural celebrations, and funeral rituals. The form of the bowl recalls that of a halved gourd, which was used as a drinking vessel.

Excerpt from

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

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