Figure: Janus (Bocio)

Fon peoples

Not on view

This janus figure crowned by a dog's skull powerfully embodies notions of guardianship and surveillance. Such works, known as bocio, are prescribed by Fon priests and diviners to promote their clients' well being. They can be designed for such purposes as influencing the weather, detecting thieves, or shielding one's family from sorcery. Most bocio are proactive defensive mechanisms commissioned by individuals to eliminate agents before they can cause harm. They serve as surrogates for the people who commission them, functioning as decoys and deflecting imminent danger. Positioned along paths, roads, agricultural fields, and near domestic compounds as well as inside homes and shrines, bocio operate at the crossroads between the spiritual and the human realms.

Figure: Janus (Bocio), Wood, bone, metal wire, sacrificial materials, Fon peoples

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