X2008.32.4 Healing vessel

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Healing vessel (kwandalwa)
Longuda peoples
Late 20th century
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Museum Purchase. X2008.32.4


Across the Western Gongola Valley, healing vessels were commonly used in ritual procedures enacted by healer-diviners to transfer the spirits of disease from a patient to a specially made ceramic pot. Typically, a piece of wet clay was circled around the patient’s body to help coax the disease into the clay. The healer-diviner then incorporated the clay into a newly modeled pot, whose features sometimes described the physical symptoms of the illness itself. Firing the pot—and transforming it into ceramic—helped secure the transfer of the disease.

Longuda healing vessels tend to have highly expressive faces with wide-open mouths and dramatic ornamentation, such as the ear and lip plugs rendered here. They can be differentiated from those of their neighbors by the raised elements and punch marks on their surfaces.

Source: Gallery Wall Text, Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley, 2011