Collections: Arts of Africa: Dance Wand (Oshe Shango)

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    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
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Dance Wand (Oshe Shango)

An oshe shango, or dance wand, is carried by devotees at the annual festival for Shango, the god of thunder and lightning. The double ax-blade motif on the figure's head represents a thunderbolt, associated with the sudden, overwhelming, and unpredictable power of of Shango. The female figure balancing the thunderbolts on her head represents a devotee of the god.

  • Culture: Yoruba (Igbomina subgroup)
  • Medium: Wood, pigment
  • Place Made: Osun or Kwara State, Nigeria
  • Dates: late 19th or early 20th century
  • Dimensions: 19 1/2 x 7 x 3 1/4 in. (49.5 x 17.8 x 8.3 cm)  (show scale)
  • Collections:Arts of Africa
  • Museum Location: This item is not on view
  • Accession Number: 79.27
  • Credit Line: Frank L. Babbott Fund and Designated Purchase Fund
  • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
  • Caption: Yoruba (Igbomina subgroup). Dance Wand (Oshe Shango), late 19th or early 20th century. Wood, pigment, 19 1/2 x 7 x 3 1/4 in. (49.5 x 17.8 x 8.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Frank L. Babbott Fund and Designated Purchase Fund, 79.27. Creative Commons-BY
  • Image: overall, 79.27_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
  • Catalogue Description: A dance wand in the form of a standing wooden female figure with arms at sides apart from torso; hands joined at hips; and feet and legs apart. Facial features include a forehead with three vertical cicatrization marks; eyelids heavy and triangular in shape; centers of eyes pierced; and lips slightly apart. Ears are horseshoe-shaped and slightly flared away from head. Coiffure has four overlapping cone-shaped elements with incised striations. Face and coiffure are separated by a smooth band with ties at the back of the head. A large double-edged axe springs vertically from top of coiffure. It is supported on either side by a smaller axe attached to a handle that joins the coiffure. Three leaf-shaped cicatrization marks appear on the front of each axe blade. Central rib of main staff (oshe) has incised geometric designs of diagonal lines and a horizontal-notched pattern on the front and back. Figure is a deep burnished reddish color with traces of red camwood. Coiffure and axe are matte black. Figure stands on its own rectangular base. Below the base is a handle in the shape of a cylinder with a flared circular terminal. Object is mounted on a modern wooden black stand. Condition is excellent. Evidence of wear on handle. Figure has some pitting and surface losses.
  • Record Completeness: Best (87%)
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