YORUBA

 

The Yoruba are distributed throughout the Yoruba-speaking lands in Nigeria, Benin/Dahomey and even in Ghana. Amongst their deities is "ESHU", one of their three most important cults (i.e. Shango, Eshu, Ibedji). Eshu is one of the 'orishas' (messenger) of 'olorum' (the Supreme God). As the latter is never directly worshipped this is done by proxy via the messenger. Among the orishas, Eshu is the only one represented in sculptural form. She/he represents the uncertainty principle, the trickster and mishief maker, the enfant terrible of mankind.

Eshu is represented by kneeling males and females, by standing figures or heads only. Primarily he/she is symbolised by a long tailed headdress in the shape of a cap or hook. It is painted white, a sacred colour. The figure can be rubbed with indigo. A breast holding female appears to be unusual. They are more often found on Shango staffs, where they represent devotees of the cult. This may also apply to the type of dance staff shown here.


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