Sangoma are the traditional healers and diviners in Southern Africa. They use ‘dice’, made of various materials to diagnose the material, spiritual and inter-relational problems of their clients. The ‘dice’ are thrown on the ground and how they fall informs the sangoma of their client’s problem.
The ‘dice’ on this tinhlolo are made from animal bone knuckles, decorated hooves and gazelle horn (?) strung together on a leather cord. It also includes the unusual addition of of a small rhino horn bottle. They all hang from a wrapped wire brass ring.
In “Dungamanzi: stirring waters, Tsonga and Shangaan art from southern Africa” Nessa Leibhammer, Johannesburg Art Gallery, 2007, pp.I76 & 177 the author states; "It is believed dice can answer any question put to them. They can indicate the causes of illness and misfortune, the location of lost or stolen possessions, and can also indicate the client's chance or recovery and what medicine should be used."
Reference: Inv.1910.22.9, a similar piece on view at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK