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The relequary figures hold the precious relics of important clan ancestors. The carved head or figure mounted on top of the reliquary box guards the sacred contents against the forbidden gaze of women and uninitiated boys.

Culture and Traditions

Songhai-Zarma people included the kings and warriors, the scribes, the artisans, the weavers, the hunters, the fishermen, the leather workers and hairdressers (Wanzam), and the domestic slaves (Horso, Bannye). Each caste reveres its own guardian spirit. The Kingdom of Songhai, or Songhay, developed from a community of fishermen who lived along the Niger River and were skilled canoeists. During the 9th century they became part of the state of Songhai and began trading with Muslim traders in Gao, which than became part of the kingdom.

Donation Details

Mr. Mrs. Scotty L. Greenwald donated in the year 2003.


The Appraised Amount is $1,000.00.

Date of Digitization


Contributing Institution

J. B . Coleman Library


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