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Dance Staff (Oshe Sango)

A work made of wood and sacrificial material.

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  • A work made of wood and sacrificial material.


Early 20th century


Yewa region (formerly Egbado), Nigeria
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

The dance staff (oshe) is among the most quintessential of Yoruba art forms. This staff bears the double ax blades of Sango—the god of warfare and thunder—representing the Neolithic stone ax heads that the god is said to hurl to Earth during thunderstorms. Below the ax blades, a woman with twins evokes Sango’s special relationship to twins, who accompany him when he creates thunderstorms. Mothers of twins frequently become devotees or priestesses of Sango. This staff retains the encrustation of sacrificial offerings, indicating that it once stood on a devotee’s altar with other accoutrements intended to honor and invigorate the deity.


Currently Off View


Arts of Africa




Dance Staff (Oshe Sango)


Nigeria (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1900–1940


Wood and sacrificial material


39.4 × 19.1 cm (15 1/2 × 7 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Major Acquisitions Fund

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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