Pair of Staffs (Edan)

A work made of ivory, iron, and string.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of ivory, iron, and string.

Date:

19th century or before

Artist:

Yoruba
Ijebu, Nigeria
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

This pair of intricately sculpted ivory staffs (edan) is highly unusual in the corpus of Yoruba art. Typically cast in brass, edan are symbols of membership in the politically powerful Osugbo society. These may have been crafted in ivory for an Osugbo member who was a devotee of the creator god Obatala, who is strongly associated with the color white. Edan commonly depict a man and a woman who are symbolically joined by a chain. Likewise, the flanking birds, possibly woodpeckers, on these staffs evoke pairing. In Yoruba iconography, birds often represent the supernatural powers of women, upon which rulers must rely.

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Arts of Africa

Artist

Yoruba

Title

Pair of Staffs (Edan)

Origin

Nigeria

Date

1750–1900

Medium

Ivory, iron, and string

Dimensions

H. 26 cm (10 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Michael J. Faletti, the Faletti Family Collection

Reference Number

2000.318

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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