University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

African Basket [Object of the Day #117]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

  This round basket is from our African collection. It it made from twine and interlacing plant fibers. These materials are woven together to create the beautiful geometric patterns that cover the object. Penn Museum Object #AF1835A See this and other objects like it on Penn Museum’s Online Collection Database

Yoruba Drum [Object of the Day #112]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

  This drum, from Nigeria, is characteristic of the Yoruba people. The object is made from wood and displays intricate carvings of fish legged people. The stylized carving represents the king-god and his arm-supporters. The drum is large in size and is missing it’s hide drumhead. Penn Museum Object #29-93-39 See this and other objects […]

Carved Wooden Cup [Object of the Day #98]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

  This anthropomorphic cup is carved from wood by the culture of Bushongo. It was made in Africa in the Kasai District. The cup is in the shape of a human head with an elongated neck featuring a choker. The face has decorative markings leading down from the eyes. On the back of neck a […]

Beaded Basket [Object of the Day #86]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

  This incredibly decorated basket is from Djibouti, Africa. The object is intricately beaded with a combination of red, black, and white glass beads. The structure of the basket is made of raphia, a type of palm tree, and is adorned with several tassels ending in shells. Penn Museum Object #2003-53-2 See this and other […]

Mangbetu Effigy Vessel [Object of the Day #74]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

  Throughout the Penn Museum collection there are objects known as effigy vessels. These vessels are found in countries ranging from Mexico to Africa – but what exactly IS an effigy vessel? Commonly, they are defined as containers that are sculpted in the likeness of a human or an animal. The one pictured above originated […]

Nigerian Armlet [Object of the Day #73]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

  This Nigerian armlet was made from ivory. The object would have been worn around the arm as an accessory. Carved into the ivory are images of Portuguese men (or Europeans) and several leopards. Penn Museum Object #29-93-3 See this and other objects like it on Penn Museum’s Online Collection Database

Spirit Spouse Sculpture [Object of the Day #55]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

The statue represents a Spirit Wife. In┬áBaule culture, both men and women are thought to have spirit spouses, supernatural husbands and wives that must be cherished before accepting a human husband or wife. A Spirit Wife is known as a Bloto Bla and a Spirit Husband is called a Bloto Bain. In order to appease […]

19th Century Luba Stool [Object of the Day #47]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

This wooden stool is supported by a female figure bearing the traits of the Luba identity. The woman sculpted traits indicate that she represents physical perfection. ┬áThe designs across her torso emulate scarification, a permanent body modification formed by scaring, burning, or cutting into the skin. She also has her hair pulled up into an […]

Helmet Mask of Bundu Society [Object of the Day #37]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

Pictured above is a 20th century African helmet mask of Bundu society. The mask is made of wood, tin, and a pigment giving the object it’s black coloring. On top of the figure’s headdress are three sagittal crests who’s edges are covered in tin strips. Tin strips are also found on the sides and across […]

Mancala Board [Object of the Day #29]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

This object is a three-row folding Mancala board made from two galutta boards. Upon each board are 9 circular depressions and one projecting arm. The board’s purpose is a platform upon which Mancala is played, a game popular in African regions such as Ethiopia. Mancala is played by using a number of counters, usually in […]

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