Ceremonial Bowl

Dan, Kran or Grebo people, Western Ivory Coast or Eastern Liberia

First half of the 20th Century


Thanks to George Schwab's "Tribes of the Liberian Hinterland" (Harvard University’s Peabody Museum’s expedition to Liberia, 1928) I was aware of how a Dan bowl look like (see illustration, figure 74 "a Gio wooden bowl"). Otherwise that's an object you can easily miss as they are rarely seen in books or in art galleries.


William Siegmann and Cynthia Schmidt, authors of "Rock of the Ancestors" (Cuttington University College, Suacoco, Liberia, 1977:60) comment (AHDRC): "Large wooden serving bowls are still occasionally used among the Dan, Kran and Grebo to serve food on such occasions as funeral feasts or town-wide celebrations [...] Like the large decorated ladles used in distributing rice on ceremonial occasions, the bowls are heirlooms which are passed on from mother to daughter and are kept promiantly displayed hanging on the walls of the house".

I could identify about 25 such bowls, of different sizes. In particular, one was showed by Gallery Ratton-Hourdé in their "Dan" show in 2007 and one was exposed in "L'Art de Manger: Rites et Traditions" at Musée Dapper in 2015 (Kerbourc'h collection).  Notably two such bowls were owned by Lucien Van de Velde, one by Josef Müller, one is at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and one collected by Hans Himmelheber is now at the Ethnologisches Museum (SMPK), Berlin.

The present Dan bowl comes from a french colonial collection, is exceptional in size and carries an unidentified number under the base.

H: 29 cm (11 1/2 inches) 

Largest diameter: 56,5 cm (22 1/4 inches)

Price : 1400 Euros enquiry