Dance Staff (Oshe Sango)

A work made of wood and sacrificial material.

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  • A work made of wood and sacrificial material.

Date:

Early 20th century

Artist:

Yoruba
Agbado region, 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.

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Arts of Africa

Artist

Yoruba

Title

Dance Staff (Oshe Sango)

Origin

Nigeria

Date

1900–1940

Medium

Wood and sacrificial material

Dimensions

39.4 × 19.1 cm (15 1/2 × 7 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Major Acquisitions Fund

Reference Number

2003.176

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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