Found objects: a brass laboratory scale with detachable front panel in a case of glass and Philippine mahogany (Shorea negrosensis), fool’s gold, sheep’s knucklebones used in African divination and a base of Partridge wood (Melittia stuhlmannii) from Mozambique.
460 mm (width); 300 mm (depth); 460 mm (height)
- 2013 – Exhibited at the arts festival of the KLEIN KAROO NASIONALE KUNSTEFEES, Oudtshoorn, South Africa as part of the installation BIG DRUID IN HIS CUBICLE.
Tipping the Scale II
The casting of bones is used by healers and diviners in most traditional African societies. In order to research the actual practice, I visited different sangomas and inyangas on many occasions. The throwing of ‘bones’ is part of a performance in which the sangoma positions himself or herself opposite a ‘patient’ in need of physical, social or psychological help. Incantations are repeated throughout in a solemn voice and a bundle of Mpepo (Helichrysum odoratissimum) is burnt and inhaled whilst special substances may also be ingested. After a while the sangoma may begin to vomit and then the ‘bones’ are casts in an approximate circle.
The bones are usually kept in a small leather pouch and although they are referred to as ‘bones’ they may consist of various personalised items such as the claw or talon of a bird or animal of prey. The bones