Detail View: The AMICA Library: Dance Wand (Oshe Shango)

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Wooden dance wand surmounted by a kneeling woman with a child on her back and a large thunderaxe (double celt) projecting from the top of her head; the thunderaxe rises from the cap-like coiffure on a short post with the flat, double blades forming a V-shape with straight sides; the woman's face features two vertical cheek scarifications (dbajo); two rings encircle her neck; broad shoulders taper to bent arms with hands holding pendulous breasts; a wrap skirt is chiseled with V-shape rows matching the coiffure decoration; child on the woman's back with face to the right, arms around her waist and legs on her hips; the woman's knees and toes rest on a circular platform with V's cut deeply around the top rim; a round handle recessed below the pedestal slightly flares at the base and terminates in a pierced knob (broken); remains of dark surface encrustation.
Creator Nationality: 
Creator Name-CRT: 
Yoruba, Nigeria
Dance Wand (Oshe Shango)
Full view
Creation Date: 
20th century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Classification Term: 
Creation Place: 
Nigeria, Africa
Length: 17 7/8"; width: 3 7/8"
AMICA Contributor: 
Brooklyn Children's Museum
Owner Location: 
Brooklyn, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Gift of Dr. Herbert S. Zim, 1975
Oshe Shango staffs/wands are carried by devotees, primarily women, of the god Shango at annual festivals and other occasions. Shango's power is displayed in thunder and lightening. Shango was the 4th King of Oyo. He misused his power and the city was destroyed by thunderstorms; Shango was exiled and later died. When Oyo continued to suffer devastation, his followers believed that it was Shango's revenge and declared him an Orisha (god). The Shango cult grew, and their dances are marked by violent and aggressive movements to the sharp beat of drums. Wands display Shango's thunderaxe and feature kneeling women as representatives of all supplicants. They often hold or lift their breasts, as in this example, as a gesture of offering and acceptance. Red and white beads and prayer rattles also represent Shango. Many of the figures are coated with red camwood powder.
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