In the mountainous and coastal region of north-eastern Tanzania around the area of the Lushoto Maintains, there are a number of cultures that have actively practised traditional healing over the years. Their reputation has spread to the far reaches of East Africa, stretching as far as Northern Uganda. Combining traditional beliefs with healing practises, artists from these cultures created a wide range of objects for the sole use of the traditional healer (Mganga).
At times, fetishes produced from clay and wood represented animals from the surrounding bush area. Some of these animals - as is the case of this piece - were abstract and/or part mythical, incorporating half animal, half beast. This animal, possibly a pig, was often represented in clay fetishes from this region, but less often in wood and on this scale. The form of this piece has been carved in wood, then wrapped in cloth (which is now worn) and covered in fetish substances. At the top of the fetish is a container filled with fetish materials and with protruding wooden spikes.
The forehead of the animal features a fetish hole layered with fetish oils and other materials. Medicines would have been placed into this hole as well as the top of the fetish to empower the animal and the healer during a healing ceremony.
Estimated Period: Mid-20th Century
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