UVaM - University of Virginia Art Museum

Collection

Divination Implement,
20th c.
Bashilele peoples, Kasai-Sankuru, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Wood, fiber, resin,
2.25 x 9.75 x 1.25 inches
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wells,
1981.8.1

The divination devices known as itombwa often take the form of animal figures, their backs forming the rubbing surface. The diviner obtains responses to inquiries about human misfortunes by rubbing the implement back and forth across the surface of the oracle. When the most appropriate answer is named, the rubbing implement suddenly stops moving, and the diviner feels it resisting his efforts and sticking to the oracle.