Smoking and Drinking

By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Liberia; Dan peoples

Wunkirmian (feast-making spoon)

Wood

H. 61.4 cm (24 3/16")

Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.204

Ownership of these ladles is restricted to wakede, an honorary title bestowed upon women who have demonstrated great generosity and hospitality, valued attributes in Dan women. While a woman may attain this position through strength of will and energy, she is also believed to have benefited from the favor of a spirit. This spirit is embodied in the ladle that is the symbol of her position (Fischer 1984: 124). In this fine example the woman’s body has been transformed into the bowl of a ladle for gifts and food.