This well-worn kola nut bowl has its origin among the Igbo who are one of the largest ethnic group in Nigeria living along the lower Niger River and spreading into the Niger Delta Region. Igbo art is diverse in its many forms, materials, and use and is broken into a number of sub-styles based upon history and local religious and social practice.
This carving is a kola nut container or bowl called okwa oji by the Igbo and are used to offer kola nuts to visitors and during ceremonies celebrating ancestors and personal deities. The offering of kola nuts is an important aspect of Igbo ceremonial and ritual life and a sign of hospitality as the sharing of kola nuts are also a symbol of friendship and trust.
Kola nuts among the Igbo are thought to have magical properties and are often found on personal and communal shrines. Kola nut dishes will be kept in Igbo homes or placed on village or personal shrines to hold the nuts in the small hollowed out center section covered with the decorated cover.
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