A Dan spoon of anthropomorphic, female shape, called “Wakemia”, the large spoon.
“The Dan are famous for their beautiful sculpted large wooden spoons, a genre unknown in other style regions of Africa. The spoons are about 40 – 75 cm long, having one or rarely two parallel bowls, and a handle with a terminal decoration.. The handles may be becorated with a fully realized head at their tops, or the entire unit may be shaped like a pair of legs. In each instance , the bowl forms the “belly” of the spoon, “pregnant” with rice….Spoons with carved heads are called mewuoshlümia, “personalfaced wooden spoons” Among the Dan the owner of the large spoon is called wa ke de, “at feasts acting woman”. She is the most hospitable woman of her village or village quarter, distinguished by her effeciency and her generosity.”
The Arts of the Dan in West Africa, Eberhard Fischer and Hans Himmelheber, Museum Rietberg, Zürich, 1984:122
“These spoons are connected with one of the most remarkable institutions of the Dan-Ngere peoples, the wunkirle or strangers visiting the quarter (and must therefore, with her husband, be a very good farmer). Wunkirle from all quarters of the town complete in generosity at an annual festival. They are carried about in hammocks, distributing gifts, and at the end of the day the most generous of all is chosen by the populace. The spoon is used in ceremonial distribution of rice by the wunkirle and as a dance staff. When a wunkirle is dying, she chooses a successor from among the married women of the clan.”
William Fagg, African Tribal Images, Cleveland, 1968, fig. 68
Height: 33 cm
Weight: 220 g