Burde-Monroe Collection

M11. Bronze Ritual Whistle with figures of snakes and vessels



M12. Maternity Figure, wood. Yoruba



M13. Helmet Mask of Hippopotamus. Probably Ijo or Ijaw



M14. Male Ibeji. Wood with bracelets. Yoruba

Ibeji (images of the twice-born ) are carved as surrogate figures commemorating the death of twins. If only one child dies, the surviving twin is responsible for the ibeji, an object considered to be the repository for the soul of the deceased.

Ibeji are treated in the same manner as living children: they are washed, fed, dressed, in some instances scarified, and ,as here, adorned with jewelry. These objects are carried wrapped to the mother's back like a living infant. They may never rest directly on the ground, but must be placed on a mat or platform. If the mother should die, the ibeji are kept by the family, but are cared for only sporadically.


M15. Dogon Granary Door with elaborate carvings

Lines of reclining female figures are separated by relief carvings of a crocodile, snakes, birds (storks?) and scorpions.

The Dogon live in the area of the Bandigara escarpment within the bend of the Niger River. The rough terrain of the region has apparently long provided refuge for peoples escaping from the pressures of Islam in the surrounding flatlands.

Doors among the Dogon are usually fitted with wooden locks made according to technical principles long used in northern Africa. In the Western Sudan, the locks are often decorated, as here, with human figures. Among the Dogon, this usage seems to be an extension of the Dogon propensity for ornaments based on generalized representations of ancestors, apparently intended to turn away evil. A great number of figures also decorate the door itself.

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