Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Turtle Amulet (Yawiige)

19th–mid-20th century
Côte d'Ivoire or Burkina Faso, northern Côte d'Ivoire-southwestern Burkina Faso
Senufo or Tussian peoples
Copper alloy
H. 2 5/16 x W. 1 7/8 x D. 3/8 in. (6 x 4.7 x 0.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John J. Klejman, 1964
Accession Number:
Not on view
Senufo diviners prescribe to their clients the acquisition of fine ornaments created from copper alloys in order to manage difficulties, treat illnesses, and attain goals. The neat concentric rings, four round feet, two small eyes, and triangular tail on the stylized turtle ornament shown here reflect the skill of the metalsmith who created this work. Turtles and other animals, including pythons and chameleons, refer to the spirit world. In executing such ornaments, artists create works to please nature spirits empowered to intervene in human affairs. The greater the level of artistry, the more effective such works are considered.
Mr. and Mrs. John J. Klejman, New York, until 1964; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1964–1978

Bochet, Gilbert. "The Poro of the Senufo." In Art of Côte d'Ivoire from the collections of the Barbier-Mueller Museum, edited by Jean-Paul Barbier. Vol. vol. 1. Geneva: Musée Barbier-Mueller, 1993.

LaGamma, Alisa. Art and Oracle: African Art and Rituals of Divination. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000, pp. 24-25.

Peek, Philip M. "Couples of Doubles? Representations of Twins in the Arts of Africa." African Arts vol. 41, no. 1 (Spring 2008), pp. 14-23 (see especially pp. 19-20).

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