THE ANSWER - YESTERDAY'S MIDWEEK MYSTERY QUESTION

'Ritual object' or Kru money?


Response to yesterday’s post brought a collection of practical applications for this interesting piece.


The origin is not known for certainty, except that they were made and used among the Kru and the Grebo in southeastern Liberia. According to one source, the Kru and Grebo believe these objects to be living creatures that could be found in creeks rivers and lagoons. They call them ‘tien’, or ‘nitien’ or ‘Dwin’, meaning water spirits or ‘Gods of water’. A variety of powers are attributed to them including the ability to stop wars, heal the sick and guarantee fertility. They are also capable to catch people crossing the streams. The Kru and Grebo believe that the ‘tien’ live in the water but can be caught and brought to town where they maybe enjoined to serve as protector or guardians.


Another source believes it was Kru money. Not sure I’d want to carry around too many weighing 3.6kg! Maybe a smaller version exists that was used as currency.


Source: Siegmann, William C., ‘Rock of the Ancestors: namo koni, Liberian Art and Culture from the Collections of the Africana Museum, Cuttington University College (Suakoko, Liberia, 1977)



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