University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Ababua Chopper [Object of the Day #91]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

  The fierce Chopper pictured above is linked to the Ababua people of Africa. Carved into the ivory handle is a deep, wide groove  that wraps around the center. The blade is made from iron with three circular cut outs in a row. Beside those cut outs, on each side, are three prong shaped iron […]

Pile Cloth, Textile [Object of the Day-#83]


By: Gabrielle Niu

This embroidered pile cloth is made by the Bushongo in Zaire, Africa. The design includes squares of angular lines which, create different patterns. Similar patterns are arranged diagonally from each other and are bordered by a brown cloth, on three sides.  Embroidery is a technique used to decorate fabric and often involves using needle and […]

Box Lid [Object of the Day-#81]

box lid

By: Gabrielle Niu

This crescent shaped box comes from the Kasai District of the Belgian Congo (Central Africa). The box is made from carved wood and features many geometric patterns on the sides and top of the box. For example, the rim features horizontally set diamond shapes with a line across the center of each one. Additionally, the […]

African Cup [Object of the Day #69]


By: Gabrielle Niu

This wooden vessel, made by the Bushongo in Zaire, has a flat base and a bulbous mid-section. The handle has a carved oval shape and pointed ends which, protrude from the handle. The body of the vessel is ornamentally carved with small diamond shapes. The pattern formed by the diamond shapes is often referred to […]

African Sculpture from Mali [Object of the Day #59]

African Sculpture

By: Ashley Harper

This sculpture displays a woman seated on stool with child. It is made of wood and iron. A child appears bent across the woman’s body, head and feet as well as resting in her arms. The woman’s stool is supported by eight figures, most likely her ancestors, around a central column.  She is, perhaps the Mother […]

Guardian Figure from French Gabon [Object of the Day #35]


By: Amy Ellsworth

This figure from Gabon is made of wood covered with metal sheets represents a human face and would serve as a reliquary guardian figure. Read more about the depiction of European people in Yoruba sculpture in Expedition magazine article The Pink People by David Crownover. Penn Museum Object #29-12-236. View this object and more like it […]

Free Hip Hop Concert Tonight! [audio]

By: Amy Ellsworth

Back in January 2012, local hip hop artists visited the African, Egyptian, and Imagine Africa galleries at the Penn Museum to draw musical (and lyrical) inspiration from the African art and artifacts. The artists, selected by local hip hop radio DJ, Zachariah Hardin aka T.H.E., include godHead The General, Magnum O, Darian The Great, KNomadz, […]

African and Caribbean Ambassadors, Area Business Leaders, Meet at the Penn Museum

By: Tom Stanley

Ambassadors from several African and Caribbean countries joined with Philadelphia area regional business leaders Friday, November 11, 2011, when the Penn Museum was host to a business roundtable discussion presented by the African and Caribbean Business Council (ACBC). The program ran throughout the morning, concluding with an African-style luncheon in the Museum’s Lower Egyptian Gallery, […]

An Evening to Imagine Africa

By: Tom Stanley

Penn Museum held its first Imagine Africa Community Night, sponsored by Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell—and more than 500 people came out to dance, drum, listen to spoken word poetry, tour the Museum’s new Imagine Africa gallery project and visit throughout the galleries.  In addition to the live entertainment and workshops, the night featured a craft […]

Ostrich Eggs

By: Gabrielle Niu

Ostrich eggshells have had a long history in the art and commerce of Africa. Back in 1987, David Conwell from Penn’s Classical Archaeology department published an article in the Penn Museum Expedition Journal about the implications about Libyan trade drawn from analysis of ostrich eggshell fragments. Conwell suggests that the shell fragments give us a […]

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