Gbene (Ceremonial Cup)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:
Description

Gbene cups are traditional cups used by the Jaba community in Northern Nigeria. They are crafted by Koro sculptors and typically used during ceremonial sacrifices, annual agricultural celebrations, and 'second funerary rites'.

According to Roy Sieber, these cups were used for drinking palm wine and beer during these ceremonies. However, Marla Berns and Richard Fardon suggest that the double-bowl design of these cups, known as ngbene, is used for funeral services or masquerades, and allows two people to drink simultaneously.

Distinguishing Features

  • Anthropomorphic cup carved as human figure
    • Can be male or female
  • Geometric shapes
  • Cylindrical neck
  • Arms carved aware from torso
  • Torso acts as receptacle
    • Double bowi forms hollowed out abdomen
  • Legs carved apart
  • Made of wood with jequinty seeds (abrus precatorius) often stuck, with gum, to neck and chest of older vessels
    • Many examples now have seeds missing
    • Seeds thought to represent benevolent ancestors and ensure the prosperity of descendents

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