By Gus Saltonstall
Anybody lose a Campana de Oduduwa?
A new Upper West Side mystery emerged on Friday morning when a jogger pulled a wooden treasure chest out of the Hudson River near West 104th Street. West Side Rag wasn’t able to share what was found inside the chest in our initial article, but readers provided a wide range of speculation and guesses on what its contents might be.
On Monday, though, the discoverer of the chest gave the Rag the go ahead to share what he found inside, in the hopes that it would help reconnect the items with their rightful owners.
Without further ado, the contents of the chest appear to be tools of the Yoruba people and religion, a West African ethnic group. Specifically, the chest looks to include a Campana de Oduduwa, a sacred bell used in the Yoruba religion, along with various other tools.
The bell is named after Oduduwa, who is a major figure in Yoruba mythology. The sound of the bell is believed to connect to both the earthly and spiritual worlds, and is used in spiritual and celebratory rituals.
The chest has not yet been reconnected with its rightful owner, but there has been work done in an attempt to do so.
After a scan around the internet, the Rag found that there was a traditional festival performance on Saturday, November 18, at the Culture Lab in Long Island City, Queens, where “audience members will be immersed in an environment of symphonic Yoruba traditional music and movements.”
The performance of the festival came one day after the chest was found in the Hudson River.
“The EYO festival is a cultural symbolism that is well inculcated in the traditions and values of the people of Lagos,” a flyer from the festival read, “through dance, ceremonial drumming, chant, authentic costumes, and music.”
Nigeria, where the city of Lagos is located, is part of the West African area where the Yoruba religion is based.
Neither CultureLab LIC, the operators of the event space where the festival took place, nor Taiwo Aloba, the artist behind the festival, responded to emails or phone calls from the Rag.
As far as the discoverer of the chest, he is grateful for the enthusiastic response from the Rag readership.
“I’ve learned in my two decades as a New Yorker that there may be those that don’t share the same perspectives as you and that’s okay,” he said. “I get it that not everyone would risk bodily harm by reaching into the River … but a lot of people were curious enough to read the article.”
To repeat, if anybody knows the chest’s origin, or can provide more information about the objects inside, please let us know in the comment section or email at email@example.com.
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