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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Miscellaneous : African Art / Yoruba / Yoruba Iron Osun Ematon Staff
African Art / Yoruba / Yoruba Iron Osun Ematon Staff - PF.4912
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 58.5" (148.6cm) high
Collection: African
Medium: Iron

Location: United States
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In his battles against witches the obo (diviner/herbalist) invokes the aid of two Yoruba gods--Ogun (god of iron), and Osun (a spirit deity of leaves and herbs). The former is aggressive; while the latter is more feminine, endowed with supernatural magic. These seemingly contradictory forces are symbolically represented in this superb staff. Being both delicate and powerful at once, its strength lies in its exquisite form, rising like a great tree crowned by a bevy of beautiful birds. These birds symbolize the witches who take an avian form at night. They gather at the tops of trees for a vantage point in search of victims to swoop down upon. An experienced diviner is also believed to be able to transform himself into a bird through the use of potent herbs and years of training. This particular flock shows the hierarchy within the witches' society, with the most magnificent on the top (perhaps the grey heron), surrounded by a variety of wonderfully abstract birds. Three sets of conical or tubular clusters, at the top, middle and bottom, emphasize the connection of the obo with others who use iron. The sheer elegance of this staff is as powerful as a great diviner's skill, condensed into a form of pure art and magic. - (PF.4912)


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