Showcasing the art and ritual of the African and African-diaspora religions

Lele friction oracle

Catalog Number: E002


42.0 x 9.0 x 4.5 cm


16.5 x 3.5 x 1.75 in


Country of Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo
Ethnographic Origin: Lele (West-Central Africa)
Materials: Wood
Usage: Ritual (non-yet-used)
Detailed Description of Significance:

This instrument is known as a rubbing oracle or friction oracle. The device consists of a free cylindrical disc and the base, or divination board. Such boards are generally found in the shapes of four-legged animals, which many peoples in this area of Central Africa saw as particularly attuned to perceiving the world of spirits. Some Lele examples such as this are shaped like human beings instead, and tend to be male rather than female. The geometrical designs along the side served aesthetic purposes and hearkened to textile designs from the neighboring Kuba people, whose textiles themselves recalled natural forms.