Artifact of the Month

Yoruba Eshu Figure

This Nigerian shrine figure represents Eshu, a trickster deity, or orisha, in traditional Yoruba religion. As a trickster, Eshu enjoys confusion and is mischievous and unpredictable. Despite this, he ultimately works to promote order and harmony. He is responsible for both good and bad changes in life.  As orisha of the crossroads, Eshu signifies possibilities […]

Categories: Artifacts

Hopi Wedding Vase

Hopi potters draw on traditions that go back more than one thousand years. Traditionally, Hopi pottery is made solely by women. This vase was made by Pauline Setalla (1930-), as indicated by her signature and a painted bear claw on the bottom. Setalla was raised in the Mishongnovi village on the Second Mesa. She learned […]

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Otomí Bark Paper

People in Mexico have made bark paper known as papel amate for almost 2000 years. Many Mesoamerican indigenous groups including the Toltec, Aztec, and Mixtec used it for a variety of purposes. While the practice disappeared across much of Mexico after the Spanish conquest when it was banned, the Otomí, an indigenous group in central […]

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Balinese Shadow Puppet

Shadow puppet plays are popular throughout Indonesia. In Bali, leather puppets like this one, called wayang kulit, are used for both entertainment and sacred ritual. During nighttime performances, the puppets’ shadows are cast against a white cloth stretched on bamboo and lit by an oil lamp above the puppeteer’s head. Puppeteers, known as dalangs, prefer a […]

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Kalina Basket Sifter

This basket sifter is from Pikin Saron, an indigenous Kalina village in the north-central part of Suriname. The Kalina are also known as Carib or mainland Carib, but they call themselves Kalina.  They live in several countries along the northern coast of South America, with a population of about 3,000 in Suriname. Square baskets like […]

Categories: Artifacts