Creator: Artist Unknown, African, Vili Peoples Congo Republic
Date Created: 1925/1975
Location: Congo Republic, Africa
Physical Dimensions: w4.7 x h21.5 x d4.7 mm (work)
Label Copy: This delicate antelope horn whistle manifests a rich network of meanings and associations. It is adorned by a small, removable sculpture that alludes to the Vili saying, “Two royal eagles fight over a peanut.” This metaphor for two men who fight over a woman speaks to the role of the diviner, who must insert himself into seemingly irreconcilable situations. Divination whistles were used with power figures (nkisi) to call upon ancestral spirits in the supernatural realm and enlist their help in detecting sources of misfortune in the world of the living. While less elaborate versions of this whistle are used for communication among hunters, this type is the sole prerogative of ritual specialists.