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Feast Ladle (Wunkirmian or Wakemia)

An emblem of honor, a symbol of generosity, and the embodiment of spiritual power, a feast ladle was traditionally owned by a woman judged to be the most hospitable in her village. Known as a wunkirle or wakede, that woman is chosen by her predecessor, whose feast ladle she frequently inherits. Her selection is public recognition that she is hard working, industrious, and has excellent skills in farming and dealing with people, for only someone with those characteristics can fulfill the responsibilities of the position, which includes responsibility for offering hospitality to all visitors to her neighborhood or village. The legs and feet are said to represent the people who arrive—usually on foot—for her to feed.

Dan peoples, Liberia/Côte d’Ivoire
Feast Ladle (Wunkirmian or Wakemia)
First half of the 20th century
H. 20 in. (52.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 63.221