Sule (active 1960s-1980s)
Healing vessel (beji)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Jim and Jeanne Pieper. X86.2577
Collected by Arnold Rubin, Tula Wange, 1970
The “bumps” on the surface of this vessel refer to the skin diseases that such pots were intended to cure.
General Information about Vessels for Transferring Disease:
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.
Source: Gallery Wall Text, Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley, 2011