Divination Bracelet (?)



Divination Bracelet (?)


Adornment, jewlerly, metalwork, multimedia, mixed media


late 19th-early 20th Century


West Africa, Cote d'Ivoire | Cote d'Ivoire


Brass, leather, cowrie shells
5 1/2 x 4 x 1 in. (14 x 10.1 x 2.5 cm)

Object Number



Most Senufu diviners are members of Sandogo, a woman's organization chartered with maintaining productive relations with the spirit world. Called Sadobele, Senufo diviners contact madebele nature spirits presenting the wilderness beyond the village. Madebele are immortal entities banished to the wilderness by the Senufo creator, Kolocolo, at the beginning of time. A tense relationship exists between humans who farm within the natural landscape, and madebele. When inadvertently disturbed by humans, madebele lash out, causing humans physical and social distress.

In order to gain the pleasure and attention of madebele spirits thereby appeasing them, diviners commission artists to create aesthetically appealing art works, such as the diminutive brass figurines atop this circlet. Called tugubele, these twin figurines are idealized images within which madebele reside during consultations. The artwork makes the invisible spirit visible. During the session the client sits facing the diviner who casts a set of divinatory signs (natural and manmade objects collected by the diviner under guidance of the madebele) from a basket. Through the medium of the tugubele figurines, the madabele read the pattern of objects and then direct the diviner to select one particular sign that determines a course of action to remedy the problem at hand.

The prescriptions are referred to by the term yawiige, which translates as "something that follows you." Rings, pendants, and bracelets cast from brass are one kind of yawiige that serve protective functions when worn by the client. The fine aesthetic and technical quality of these brass ornaments ensures their efficacy by pleasing the mandebele spirits.

Credit Line

Ex coll. William S. Arnett


Divine Intervention: African Art and Religion, Michael C. Carlos Museum, February 5 - December 4, 2011


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2006.
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On View



“Divination Bracelet (?),” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed March 17, 2018, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7488.

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