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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Yoruba Brass Fans : Yoruba Brass Fan of an Osun Priestess
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Yoruba Brass Fan of an Osun Priestess - PF.5041
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 18" (45.7cm) high x 12.375" (31.4cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Medium: Brass


Location: United States
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Description
At the time when the sacred waters of orisa Osun are taken in brass bowls from the river to the shrine, the priestess carries her fan as an insignia of office. As a mediator between this world and the "other world", the priestess is able to interpret messages from the river deity Osun to her suppliants in response to their questions. She is also in touch with spirits of nature, using these forces to help people in a variety of ways.

The iconography on this fan is particularly outstanding. The oblong shape in the middle contains two separate faces, similar to those found on divinations trays (opon), representing the image of deities. Two human figures sit on appendages extending from the central element. One of the men holds a sword, while the other points a rifle at a large bird. In Yoruba mythology, birds symbolize witches of the night who are believed to take the form of birds to work their evil. Snakes, a fish, a small bird and a mammal-like creature populate the surface. The deeming world of the jungle is here dominated by the figures on the top; symbolic of priestess's power in both the physical and non-physical worlds.
- (PF.5041)

 

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