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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

 


Maker(s):Unknown
Culture:African, Luba
Title:Divination gourd (mboko)
Date Made:early 20th century
Type:Ceremonial
Materials:gourd, bone, feathers, metal, fur, seeds, and various other natural and artificial materials
Place Made:Africa
Measurements:diameter 8 3/4"
Accession Number:  AC 1999.11
Credit Line:The Barry D. Maurer (Class of 1959) Collection of African art purchased with Amherst College Discretionary Fund and funds from H. Axel Schupf (Class of 1957)
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Label Text:
A divination receptacle of hollowed gourd with attached fur pelt fragment which holds feathers, animal bone fragments, man-made metal pieces, and carved figures.

This hollowed gourd (mboko), and its assemblage of natural and man-made objects within, unlock the sources of human hardship during Bilumbu divination rites practiced by Luba peoples in central Africa. Luba diviners use such containers to diagnose the root causes of various problems, thereby providing guidance toward health, justice, and social harmony. When a client arrives for counsel, the diviner selects a calabash, shakes it, and then removes the lid. The motion of the gourd’s contents summons a spirit that the diviner accesses to form the “organizing images”: while possessed by the spirit, the diviner takes the upright and topmost items as revelatory signs of the causes of the client’s problems.

Tags:
symbolism; religion; round; roughness

Link to share this object record:
https://museums.fivecolleges.edu/detail.php?t=objects&type=ext&id_number=AC+1999.11

Research on objects in the collections, including provenance, is ongoing and may be incomplete. If you have additional information or would like to learn more about a particular object, please email fc-museums-web@fivecolleges.edu.

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