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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Yoruba Staffs : Yoruba Iron Osun Ematon Staff
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Yoruba Iron Osun Ematon Staff - PF.4911
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 26.75" (67.9cm) high x 6" (15.2cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Iron

Location: United States
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It is believed that many illnesses are caused by witches who take the form of birds. A Yoruba witch transforms her “heart/soul” into bird form and travels during the night in search of victims. In order to combat them the diviner/herbalist uses staffs with bird shapes as protective devices. This results in a sort of fighting fire with fire, utilizing a particular manifestation represented in art to counteract evil forces. The beautiful grouping of bird and plant-like shapes on the top of this staff combines pure abstraction and semi-realism in a dramatic visual depiction of the real and non-real worlds. The obo diviner must be an expert in herbs and medicinal plants in order to transform himself into a bird to fight the witches on an equal level. The staff depicts this metamorphosis, as the vertical shaft shoots towards the sky suddenly turning into a lovely bird about to spread its wings. What was once made as an essential “tool” for a powerful diviner has become a work of art - continuing its tradition of transformation! - (PF.4911)


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