Hand Coil

Hand Coil

1800s

Copper alloy

Diameter: 11.5 cm (4 1/2 in.)

Gift of Katherine C. White 1975.188

Description

While this looks like a bracelet, it wasn’t worn around a wrist. A chief or titleholder grasped this “hand coil” vertically during the annual Iguẹ festival, during which such men reaffirm their relationship to the Ọba, whose mystical powers are strengthened. An image of a man’s head caps each end of the thick, twisted metal. Repeated human touch rubbed the undecorated lengths bright and shiny. Though small, the coil’s detail is enormous: to capture it, the artist incised the designs in wax during the casting process. They show these men are elites, with necklaces, caps, and whisker-like facial markings.

See also
Collection: 
African Art
Department: 
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Implements
Medium: 
Copper alloy

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