Wunkirmian (Feast Spoon)


By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


Wunkirmian (also called wake mia) spoons are brought out during important feasts and ceremonies and awarded to the women in the village considered to be the most generous and hospitable. The selected woman (known as wake de, 'at feasts acting woman' or wunkirle 'most hospitable woman') is then responsible for supervising the preparation of village feasts during masquerade ceremonies, directing the distribution of rice to children and members of the village, whilst also dancing through the village, using the wunkirmian as a dance wand. She is also subsequently responsible for selecting her successor.

"In addition to being emblems of honour, wunkirmian also have spiritual power. They are a Dan woman’s chief liaison with the power of the spirit world and a symbol of that connection. Among the Dan, the wunkirmian have been assigned a role among women that is comparable to that which masks serve among the men. In many instances, wunkirmian are featured in the same ceremonies with masks, tossing rice in front of them as a blessing while they proceed through the village1."

Distinguishing Features

Common features among all wunkirmian:

  • Made of wood (typically from the rubber tree)
  • Height = 15 - 30 inches
  • Have one or two parallel bowls
  • Handle of spoon always features a terminal decoration
  • Back of spoon sometimes embellished with longitudinal ribs in low relief and scarification marks replicating those found on Dan women

Sub-type variations (Mawuoshlümia - 'Person Faced Wooden Spoon'):

  • Terminal decoration in the form of a female head (often similar to faces of deangle masks
  • Metal teeth in carved head
  • Narrow slit eyes

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