UVaM - University of Virginia Art Museum

Collection

Shrine Figure (a-Tshol)
Baga peoples, Guinea
Wood,
20 x 33.75 x 5.5 inches
Gift of Leonard Whitehouse,
1981.55.6

This curious looking sculpture combines the elongated beak, head, and neck of a tall, water bird together with elements of a human face. Pouring magical substances into the openings of the head activates the ritual powers of this sculpture, which normally resides in a private family shrine. Like the long-legged wading birds that fish in the coastal lagoons where the Baga live, the powers of the a-Tshol will seek out the dangerous forces that might harm the family members.