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Divination Instrument

Culture Pende
Title Divination Instrument (Galukoji)
Date Mid 20th century
Medium Wood, fiber, and and feathers
Dimensions Object: 9 × 12 × 4 in. (22.9 × 30.5 × 10.2 cm)
Overall (includes mount): 14 7/8 × 12 × 4 in. (37.8 × 30.5 × 10.2 cm)
Credit Line Gift in honor of Raymond and Laura Wielgus by Mr. and Mrs. H. Kelley Rollings, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 98.178

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About this Work

The Pende, like many other peoples in sub-Saharan Africa, traditionally believe that certain individuals have the ability to communicate with spirits of the dead to ensure success and prosperity for those living in the physical world. Pende diviners compete fiercely for clients, and a variety of divinatory methods and their accompanying devices have gone in and out of fashion as ways to convince clients that particular diviners can offer the best connection to the ancestors.

The galukoji is one of the most striking of these divination objects; first documented in 1928, it continued in use to the early 1950s. A diviner held this instrument on his lap with the head at the top and inserted a finger between the crossbars. The galukoshi was believed able to reveal who was guilty of a crime or other offense, for at the mention of the guilty person's name, the head of the galukoshi would move up toward the face of the diviner.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

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"Divination Instrument | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.