Baule Diviners Oracle Pot Gbekre-
Origin: Ivory Coast
Approx Age: Early – Mid 20th Century
Materials: Wood, String, brass studs
Dimensions cm: 17 x17
Ref. Number: 0938
An old and traditional styled Baule diviners oracle pot Gbekre-se from Ivory Coast. A beautiful and extremely used pot, up close, this pot has been carved with real skill and beauty, it does have an old and large crack down the one side of the pot but it is very stable. It still has the metal plate on the base it to cover the hole to keep the mouse in once caught. A stunning tribally / ritually used item.
Provenance: The Inventory and Collection from the Estate of Merton D. Simpson.
Inside this receptacle, a device composed of sticks records the movements of mice as signs that reveal insights into matters of importance. Mouse divination is probably of Guro origin and is one of several divination techniques used in Baule society; it is practiced in eastern and central Côte d’Ivoire by Agni-speaking peoples, which include the Guro and Yaure. Regional oral traditions recount that in the distant past mice could speak. At that time they lived in the forest with the earth spirits (asye usu) until a spiritual specialist carried them into the village to be kept in captivity. Their natural proximity to the earth’s surface and their ability to burrow beneath it permit mice to gain intimate access to the omniscient asye usu and the ancestors, thus enabling them to foretell events.
Specialists spend several years mastering this divination technique. Their training emphasises properly compensating the divinities and oracle for the enlightenment they provide, to ensure that they will remain favourably disposed. It also includes practical lessons on preparing medications and instruction in interpreting a vocabulary of visual signs. On becoming initiated into the secrets of the profession, the diviner is provided with his own mouse oracle (gbekre) and may establish an independent practice.
These mouse oracle pots are known as “gbekre-se” translation (mouse oracle) “gbekre” on its own (mouse). In modern day understanding the word “gbekre” is more commonly understood with reference to the Baule monkey, which is very wrong!! The Baule monkey is called “aboya or mbotumbo” not gbekre.
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