The word ‘fetish’ probably brings up some rather saucy mental images to most of our readers. But in anthropology, a ‘fetish’ is an object, which is considered to be imbued with spiritual power or magical potency. This metal spear from Boulon in Burkina Faso might not look very magical, but according to the anthropologist Phine Kjær Wiborg, who collected it, this metal spear is something rather special:
“In the Karaboro culture you worship your fetish. Not all families have one. The fetish priest of the village usually has several different ones, which he travels far and wide to buy and collect. As a very sacred object, it is used to bridge the two worlds.
Usually it is only men, who handle fetishes. If a family has such a fetish as this one, it is used by women during their circumcision rites and during wedding celebrations. A woman holds it in her hand, point turned towards the ground, and sometimes she will even dance with it”.
Sometimes the simplest things can hide the most magical stories.