SPECIAL ADVISORY: In accordance with Yale University’s revised COVID-19 protocols, the Yale University Art Gallery will close to the public beginning Friday, October 16, 2020. Learn More

Loan Object
PrevNext1 of 4
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 4
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext3 of 4
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext4 of 4
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Canoe to the Afterlife (Oko re Erivwin)

late 19th–early 20th century

Wood, metal, string, and pigment

15 1/2 × 12 3/16 × 42 1/2 in. (39.37 × 31 × 107.95 cm)
Lent by Laura G. Ross
This work perfectly illustrates the meeting of two worlds, the land of the living and the land of the dead, and can be read as a metaphor for the communication between mortals and spirits. Urhobo family groups owned such boats, which they used as temporary shrines at funerals to facilitate the journey of the spirit of the deceased to the otherworld. They are also displayed on the last day of a water-spirit festival to ensure that the spirits safely leave the world of the living and return home. In this example, the deceased is represented on the boat with two wives, two horn blowers, and a paddler in the back.
Made in Guinea Coast, Nigeria
On view
19th–20th century
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.