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Wooden bowl containing shells, bones and nut kernels, South Africa, 1890-1924

Inside the carved wooden bowl are objects used for divination: eighteen bones, four pieces of nut shell, three shells and two nut kernels. Divination has been used for thousands of years and is believed to help determine the cause of disease or its treatment. Each of the pieces in the bowl meant something to the diviner and were interpreted according to the patterns they formed. The divination bowl was originally displayed at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition in Wembley, Middlesex, England, in the Nigerian section.

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    Glossary: divination bowl

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    Glossary: divination

    The practice of seeking knowledge of the future through the interpretation of omens or other supernatural means.