Ceremonial Wunkirmian Spoon

Ceremonial Wunkirmian Spoon


Ceremonial spoon (Wunkirmian).

Dan peoples, Ivory Coast, Early 20th Century.

Artists in Dan communities of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire have mastered the art of carving impressive wooden ladles that are virtuoso works of sculpture. These ceremonial ladles, known as Wunkirmian or Wakemia ("spoon associated with feasts") are badges of prestige acknowledging an individual woman for her incomparable generosity (the belly of the spoon being symbolic of the female womb).

They are not so much utilitarian objects rather than symbols of status and the bearer of spiritual powers. Quality of craftsmanship and complexity of design are constitutive of the work’s importance. To create such esteemed objects, Dan sculptors often rely on anthropomorphic forms and draw upon elements of style developed in other carvings such as masks and figures.

Spoon measures: 18 3/4” H, 4” W

Base measures: 4 3/4” W, 4 3/4” D

For a more in-depth look at the fascinating symbolism and use of Wunkirmian in Dan culture, kindly see our blog post here.