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Height: 8.900 cm

Gift of Emil Torday

AOA 1904.11-19.3

Africa, Oceania, Americas


    Luba, probably early 20th century AD
    From the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire)

    A divination instrument

    This small wooden double-headed object, collected by Emil Torday (1875-1931), the Hungarian ethnographer, was at first described by him as a 'snuff-grinder'. Snuff is prepared from the green leaf of the tobacco plant which is dried and ground into a powder and is taken by men.

    However, scholars have since concluded that it is, in fact, an instrument used in divination, called a luboko. Diviners are consulted on a variety of matters, from the source of illness or infertility to the identification of thieves or witches. The diviner and his client each hold one side of the object, thus creating a mystical link between them during the consultation.

    J. Mack, Emil Torday and the art of the (London, The British Museum Press)


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