Turtle Amulet (Yawiige)

Date: 19th–mid-20th century

Geography: Côte d'Ivoire or Burkina Faso, northern Côte d'Ivoire-southwestern Burkina Faso

Culture: Senufo or Tussian peoples

Medium: Copper alloy

Dimensions: H. 2 5/16 x W. 1 7/8 x D. 3/8 in. (6 x 4.7 x 0.9 cm)

Classification: Metal-Sculpture

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John J. Klejman, 1964

Accession Number: 1978.412.498


Senufo diviners prescribe to their clients the acquisition of fine ornaments created from copper alloys in order to manage difficulties, treat illnesses, and attain goals. The neat concentric rings, four round feet, two small eyes, and triangular tail on the stylized turtle ornament shown here reflect the skill of the metalsmith who created this work. Turtles and other animals, including pythons and chameleons, refer to the spirit world. In executing such ornaments, artists create works to please nature spirits empowered to intervene in human affairs. The greater the level of artistry, the more effective such works are considered.