Bronze statue, female, with a goitre-like growth, Yoruba, Nigerian, 19th century
At the side of the neck of this bronze female statue, a goitre growth can be seen. Goitre is the swelling of the thyroid gland. The woman is also holding a gourd which could be a container for sacrificial gifts. As well as showing a pathological condition, the members of the secret Ogboni Society for the cult of the Earth Spirit used this statue to communicate between the living and the dead. Ancestors would watch over the crops and land and in return for a good harvest the living would offer up food and wine in thanksgiving. This cult was especially strong in the mid 1800s.