This paddle is from the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. It is carved in the form of a crocodile and was probably purely ceremonial, to be used in dances and other ceremonies. Paddles are valued items in the Niger Delta region, where water is very culturally significant because of its potential for trade and communication, and the local belief in water spirits.
Because of their use in dance ceremonies, ceremonial paddles such as this were considered highly collectable by westerners, first colonial officials and then tourists. The age of this paddle is not known.
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