Loma Healing Figural Urn

Figural Urn                                        Kwo Wahle  Loma Zorzor, Liberia Terra cotta, kaolin, iron, unknown contents Height: 16 inches (41 cm)

Figural Urn
Kwo Wahle
Loma
Zorzor, Liberia
Terra cotta, kaolin, iron, unknown contents
Height: 16 inches (41 cm)

This rare and powerful Loma power object belonged to a Poro Zo. In Loma, it is called Kwo Walhe (Big Doctor). It contains a powerful Bush Spirit within its terra cotta jar, represented by the Janus-headed figural post rising from the sealed lid.

It was kept in the home of the Zo, and was used specifically for healing the sick. Patients who came to visit the Zo would first make an offering to the medicine jar, and then get herbal or spiritual help.

The figural stopper is Janus-faced to represent its male and female nature, as well as its ability to see any bad magic that has been wished on someone. The metal on the top of the head are the ends of Kissi Pennies containing 94% iron. It imparts and communicates strength, and is similar to the benzue seen on the head of the Toma Masgui.

The iron itself possesses a certain duality to the West African observer, a quality that is imparted as much by the process of smelting iron and forging implements, as by its uses in weapons and tools. In the heat of the womb-shaped forge, iron ore glows red, as does the iron itself before it cools. Iron can be shaped and drawn while it is hot, yet becomes hard and strong as it cools and blackens. Thus, in addition to the duality of the Janus figure, inherent in the iron itself are the dualities of hot/cold, female/male, cooked/raw, fire/water, nature/culture, and village/Poro Bush (Herbert,1993; Dewey and Roberts,1993).

Dewey, W.J. and Roberts, A.F. (1993). Iron, Master of Them All. Iowa City: University of Iowa.

Herbert, E. W. (1993). Iron, Gender, and Power: Rituals of Transformation in African Societies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

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