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Figural Container

A work made of wood, leather, and sacrificial material.

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  • A work made of wood, leather, and sacrificial material.


Late 19th-early 20th century


Zigua or Mbugu
Usambara Mountains region, Tanzania
Eastern and Southern Africa

About this artwork

Hollowed for use as a vessel, this sculpture was created for divination practices and doubles as a medicine container. The carved head is a removable stopper of the type used throughout eastern Africa to dispense ritual substances. Such sculptural forms are often customized to reflect an individual purpose. The frame-like
lines around the eyes on this object could represent the [i]saif malik[/i] mask worn by women from Oman, so it may have been intended to counteract dangers related to regional slave traders from the Arabian Peninsula.


On View, Gallery 137


Arts of Africa




Figural Container


Tanzania (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Wood, leather, and sacrificial material


H.: 52.1 cm (20 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection and Edward Johnson funds

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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