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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Nail Figures from Zaire [Object of the Day #11]

Nail Figures

By: Amy Ellsworth

Meet the Nkisi N’kondi nail figures from the lower Zaire River region (Kongo). These 19th century figures, studded with nails, are used by Kongo individuals who are looking for justice, for solutions to particular problems, or for protection against malevolent forces. By promising something to the figure a client ensures the assistance of the supernatural […]

Iron Throwing Knife from Zaire [Object of the Day #4]

Throwing Knife

By: Amy Ellsworth

This Mogwandi throwing knife from Zaire has a straight iron blade slightly narrowing to a large triangular blade at right angle to the end and with pointed vertical extension at its proximal end. On the other side from the end is a vertical crescent blade. Triangular spur at base of blade on the same side […]

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