Yoruba Wooden Diviner’s Bowl Supported by a Horse and Rider

SKU X.1037

20th Century AD


12″ (30.5cm) high x 9″ (22.9cm) wide




Southwestern Nigeria

Gallery Location



This sculpture is imbedded with a magical power. Kola nuts, a symbol of fertility, would have been placed inside the bowl as an offering for the gods. This would have been one of the most sacred gifts offered to the gods. The carving depicts a man riding a horse. Horses were considered signs of nobility and Kings and rulers were often depicted on horseback. The rider’s hair has been fashioned into two braided tails that protrude from the sides of his head, echoing the lines of his arms. In his right hand, he appears to hold a staff of some sort that might indicate his rank in the tribe and symbolize his authority. His large, almond-shaped eyes are characteristic of the Yoruba style. The horse has been equally embellished with an elaborate bridal and saddle blanket. The bowl grows out of a column emerging from the rider’s head and has been finely finished. The inside of the bowl bears the patina of ritual residue indicating that it was frequently used in a ceremonial context. This sculpture has a power far greater than its size suggests, a power to invoke the will of the gods and the favor of ancestral spirits

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