Wooden staff covered with beads, displaying a zigzag pattern in blue, white, red, yellow, green and pink along the shaft, with an iron point at the base. The finial (top of the staff) consists of an equestrian, mostly in green, wearing elaborate red-and-yellow headgear, holding a staff and riding a multicolored horse, which stands on a rectangular platform adorned with a veil of ropes of beads.
Artist Unknown, African, Yoruba Peoples Nigeria
c. 1950
Among the Yoruba peoples of Nigeria, the ownership of completely beaded objects is reserved for kings and other rare indivuals who communicate with the gods; beaded staffs such as this one are associated with rulers and chiefs. The figure of the horserider might himself represent a ruler, too, as indicated by his crown and staff, as well as his possesion of a horse, and the veil suspended from the platform. The platform might be filled with power substances, since beaded are surrogates for their owners and carry the "spirit" of the ruler in his or her absence. The staff can be planted in the ground with its iron tip: the firm, vertical stance of the staff asserts the ruler's power, authority and potential for action.
Gift of Margaret H. and Albert J. Coudron
Monday, June 5, 2023
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