University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
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Object Number:37-22-250
Current Location: Collections Storage
Culture:Sherbro
Provenience: Sierra Leone
Sherbro Island
Section:African
Materials:Leaf
Fiber
Turtle Shell
Length: 57 cm
Width: 70 cm
Credit Line:Expedition to Sierra Leone, West Africa; Henry Usher Hall, 1937
Other Number:2105 - Other Number

Description

Pawk is the "medicine" of a men's Secret Society. It is principally used to "swear" persons in court, the accused or witnesses. It brings terrible consequences upon perjurers. Their sexual organs will rot, or their eyeballs burst out of the sockets and lie on the sheeks, or their bones will break, or their intestines will rot. If antidotes are not applied in the presence of the medicine, the perjurer will die. Women may be sworn on Pawk, but it must then be kept covered, as women are not allowed to see its elements and the other properties of the Society. When the Society is in Session and the bull-roarers [min "spirit"] are heard, the women must hide in their houses or flee to the bush. When the medicine is beingn brought to a village the tortoise-shells [konto] are beaten with a short stick as the medicine approaches, and the women flee to the bush. The min or bull-roarers, which are made to "speak" by whirling them around the head at the end of a string, are the "medicine" proper; the leaves are antidotes.


Current & Past Exhibitions:

Musical Instrument Exhibition, Curtis String Quartet (26 Nov 1941 - 26 Nov 1941) View Objects in Exhibition

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