Long before Octomom (AKA Nadya Suleman) was implanted with a dozen embryos by a California doctor, diverse cultures across Africa employed sacred objects to ensure fecundation. Octodoc, Michael Kamrava, later had his license revoked when it was discovered he had also produced Sulemans first six kids through in vitro fertilization. Maybe he should have boned up on Africas rich tradition of fertility rituals to maintain his practice in good stead. At festivals across the continent, African villagers donned fertility masks, offered their gods songs and libations, and rhythmically danced with rapid, erratic stomping all to thank the ancestors for a good crop or healthy babies. Couples even placed fertility dolls near their beds hoping for fruitful pregnancies because big broods were welcomed to ensure survival of their culture.
African Treasures is on view at the World Erotic Art Museum through August 31. See it Wednesday for a rare view of fertility objects and furnishings from numerous African cultures. The artifacts bridge the gap between the sacred and profane, embracing reproduction through ritual without risking jail time. Among the 60 pieces on display are Bundu ceremonial helmets, masks from Sierra Leone, a Makonde pregnant-belly Njorowe mask from Tanzania, and Luba tribe divination tables from the Congo. Opening reception is June 21 at... More >>>