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African Art

Simian Figure Holding Cup

late 19th century–early 20th century

Wood, fiber, hide, encrustation, and stones

17 × 5 × 6 1/4 in. (43.18 × 12.7 × 15.88 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
This monkey figure with a doglike face holds a container in its hands into which eggs would have been placed. It was used during trance divination sessions called mbra. The coating of blood, bird down or feathers, and crushed eggshell are a consistent reminder of the sacrifices made to it, meant to regenerate the force of the statue.
Guinea Coast, Côte d’Ivoire
On view
19th–20th century

Lucien Van de Velde, Antwerp, purchased in Abidjan about 1970. Hans van Witteloostuijn, Delft, to Nov. 1984 (?). Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn;Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Susan Vogel, Baule: African Art, Western Eyes, exh. cat. (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1997), 41, ill.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222.

Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 73, 126, fig. 16.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.