Elderhood

By Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa

Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire; Dan peoples

Wakemia (ladle)

Wood, metal

H. 64.8 cm (25")

The University of Iowa Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection, X1986.522

The respect that is accorded both men and women who have attained positions of authority and honor is made visible among the Dan peoples of Liberia by the large wooden ladles known as wunkirmian.  The spoon bears an idealized portrait of the owner as a young woman, at the moment she began her role as mother and wife.  The spoons are carved for women who are recognized by other women of a town as the most hospitable person in a community.  The spoons serve as symbol of that status and are used as a kind of dance wand when the honored woman dances through the town accompanied by her own entourage of women.