Actions and objects not only alter the external appearance of the head, but also change the inner life of the person. While European thought tends to privilege the brain as the source of ideas and emotions, many Africans distribute these functions to different areas, such as an imagined inner head or the region of the stomach or solar plexus. Nevertheless, the head appears as a prominent visual element on objects used to effect internal change.
The objects here display head motifs from three realms of action: initiation (rites of passage) for boys and girls, divination sessions, and invocations of invisible powers through symbolic medicine. In these rites, objects function to change the tone and direction of participants’ thoughts, thus altering their inner state of being. These objects include musical instruments, cups, and spoons.