Ceremonial Chewing Stick

Wood stick with dark smooth patina; shows six registers or symbols carved into it, from top to bottom: closed fist; rifle; wisdom knot; powder keg; femake figure with hands covering breasts and genitals; paddle.
Artist Unknown, African, Fante Peoples Ghana
1900-1925
A ceremonial rendering of an ordinary chewing stick used to clean teeth and gums; they were beautifully carved and important objects of display in Fante girls’ puberty rites. During the public phase of the ceremony, pubescent girls marched in front of onlookers, holding one end of the chewing stick their mouths. Ceremnial chewing sticks are icongraphically rich. Each one bears a different combination of symbols that refers broadly to the initiate’s transition to womanhood.
Museum Purchase made possible by the Friends of the Museum of Art
1987/1.270
Monday, October 22, 2018