Dan Spoon, Ivory Coast
H: 54 cm (21,3″) W: 12 cm (4,7″)
The Dan is famous for their beautiful sculpted large wooden spoons, a genre unknown in other style regions of Africa. The spoons are about 40 – 75 cm long, having one or rarely two parallel bowls, and a handle with a terminal decoration. The handles can be decorated with a fully realized head at their tops, or the entire unit may be shaped like a pair of legs. In each instance, the bowl forms the “belly” of the spoon, “pregnant” with rice. Spoons with carved heads are called mewuoshlümia, “personal faced wooden spoons” Among the Dan the owner of the large spoon is called wa ke de, “at feasts acting woman”. She is the most hospitable woman of her village or village quarter, distinguished by her efficiency and her generosity.
‘The Arts of the Dan in West Africa’, Eberhard Fischer and Hans Himmelheber, Museum Rietberg, Zürich, 1984:122