Esu-Elegbara Dance Staff

At the top of the staff, a male and female supplicant peer from a cascade of cowries, brass beads, iron fragments, and seeds. Some cowries are stained with indigo dye. The lower bodies of the figures are concealed by the shell strands above. Their elongated hairstyles extend the overall verticality of the piece. The figure’s faces appear to be identical.
Artist Unknown, African, Yoruba Peoples Nigeria
1900-1975
This staff sounds like a rattle when in motion. If seen in action, it “dances” at the threshold of town or the market to pay Esu-Elegbara homage. At rest, the shaker dangles around devotee’s necks or gets pegged to shrine walls. Esu is the deity of dynamic change and is represented by the crossroads. If honored properly, Esu generously intercedes in human affairs. Otherwise, he induces disorientation and stifles those who neglect him.
Gift of Dr. Daniel and Sandra Mato
2003/2.26
Friday, February 3, 2023