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Sango Dance Staff (Ose Sango)

A work made of wood.

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  • A work made of wood.


Late 19th/early 20th century


Workshop of Abogunde of Ede (active late 19th century)
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

Abogunde of Ede is recognized as one of the most significant Yoruba sculptors of the late 19th century, influencing a number of artists who each developed a distinctive sculptural style. The Art Institute of Chicago’s collection includes one of the great masterpieces of the Abogunde of Ede workshop, a shrine figure of a regal seated woman holding a bowl in her hands and supporting an animated child on her back (see 1988.21). This ose sango, or Sango dance staff, is undoubtedly also in the workshop’s style as characterized by figure’s intense gaze, striated coiffure, sharply jutting breasts, and angular features.

Dance staffs are among the paraphernalia belonging to a devotee of a Yoruba deity and they often depict a devotee in the act of worship. The kneeling devotee on this staff is a worshipper of Sango; the deity is evoked by the split celts that are balanced on the figure’s head and that crown the dance staff she holds in her left hand. Celts are associated with thunder that the unpredictable and at times violent Sango can call upon at will. The object in the devotee’s right hand is probably a gourd rattle, another implement of Sango worship (see also 2003.177).

A dance staff such as this one may be carried by a devotee during performances dedicated to his or her patron deity. At other times the staff is placed on a shrine along with other objects used in worship. This staff bears a crusty, hardened patina formed by sacrificial offerings of kola nuts or other organic materials.


Currently Off View


Arts of Africa


Workshop of Abogunde of Ede




Sango Dance Staff (Ose Sango)


Nigeria (Object made in), Africa (Object made in)






34.3 × 8.9 × 7.6 cm (13 1/2 × 3 1/2 × 3 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Drs. James and Gladys Strain

Reference Number


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 . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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