divination figure; figure (communication artefact)

Male divination or purification figure associated with the Sherbo/Mende Njayei, or Bollum Yasi, society.

This is likely to be a Njayei, or Yasi in Bullom, society female figure, from a male-female pair. The female pair is likely to be 8.397. The Njayei society is predominantly a Sherbro/Mende society that deploys a kind of esoteric power called halei as a means of diagnosing ritual pollution, and purifying those who have wittingly or unwittingly incurred pollution. Figures such as this were kept to 'guard' such medicines, as well as being displayed during public processions and used in the curing process itself. A symptom of pollution is thought to be mental illness, and Njayei is said to be specially empowered by its medicine to cure mental illness. The society is unusual for the region since it has both male and female members. This figure is particularly interesting because it is shown wearing This example is particularly unusual as it is wearing a European hat, a common sign of status during the colonial period, as they were often worn by indigenous chiefs. Typically images of spirits were carved to represent high status individuals so as to gain their favour. This figure was donated by Claudius Dionysius Hotobah During.

Collection Information

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