Yoruba Ogboni Shrine Figures PAIR, Nigeria #778

$ 8,600.00

  • Ogboni Shrine Figures PAIR, Nigeria #778
  • A fragmentary couple of large Ogboni Shrine Figures, Nigeria, Yoruba, Ijebu, or Owu Religion. 
  • According to the last owner it was once found in a well and not in the earth.
  • "The style of works in metal and ivory is very different...its completely different function." (The Art of Black Africa, translated by R.A. Wilson, the New York Graphic Society, New York, 1972, pp 174-176.)
  • Measurements: Height, 104 cm / 104 cm
  • Condition: Very Good
  • Lit.: Leuzinger, Elsy, Kunst uit Afrika: Rond de Niger - De Machtige Rivier, The Hague: Haags Gemeentemuseum, 1971, no. L11. Leuzinger, Elsy, Kunsthaus Zürich: Die Kunst von Schwarz-Afrika, Zurich: Kunsthaus, 1970, pp. 178, no. L11. 
  • Headed by the Oluwo (Chief Priest), the Yoruba Ogboni (meaning 'Cult of Old Age') is a Society of Respected Elderly Men and Women responsible for the management and wellbeing of their Community through the maintenance of Law and Order - often with the power to sentence criminals to death. They are also responsible for the selection and eventual burial of the Oba ('King') of the Village and even have the power to expel the King should the Group deem him unfit to rule.
  • The Edan Ogboni (also called Edan Osugbo among the Ijebu and Egba of Yorubaland) is used by Ogboni Cult members as a Symbol of Membership but it is also believed to be the God Edan in physical form. When a new member joins the Cult, he or she is given an Edan to represent the Expectation of Secrecy from all Cult members; the Staff remains in the member's possession till death. When not in use, the staff is stored in the inner corners of the member's home (away from public view) and is always kept highly polished.
  • NOTE: Smaller Edan Staffs (2-3 inches) are used as Amulets and can also carried by Ogboni members as a sign of membership to the Cult.
  • Distinguishing Features:
    Styles vary between Regions of Yorubaland but all Edan Ogboni staffs fall under 3 main forms:
    Type 1: Heads mounted on staffs
    Type 2: Basic figures with rudimentary genitalia
    Type 3: Naturalistic representations of whole figures
  • Common features among all Edan Ogboni figures:
    Figure made of brass over clay core (very early examples made of wood)
    Spike under figure made of iron
    Usually between 4 - 10 inches long
    Figures joined by a chain attached to heads
    Short iron rod under each figure (1 male, 1 female)
    Human figure often rendered nude
    Frontal pose: standing, seated, or kneeling
    Male & female genitalia exaggerated
    Each male figure carries object identified with Ogboni Rituals
    Executioner's club
    Staff of office
    Ceremonial fan
    Dish
    Wooden ladle
    Tobacco pipe
  • When not carrying an object, depicted with Ogboni Sacred Symbol of left fist over right, thumbs hidden:
    Some figures place hands close to the mouth
    Female figure depicted holding a baby or holding onto her breasts
    Enlarged head
    Bulging forehead
    Some feature crescent motif (Osu) on forehead
    Some feature spiral or concentric circles on forehead
    Eyes can be one of the following:
    Split sphere
    Almond shaped set on edge and protruding obliquely on face
    Two flat centric circles
    Protruding, conical and ringed headdress
  • Bibliography
    - 1. À YÀ GBÓ, À YÀ TÓ: NEW PERSPECTIVES ON EDAN ÒGBÓNI: BABATUNDE LAWAL
    - 2. PSYCHOPHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES OF THE OGBONI EDAN: L. E. ROACHE
    - 3. THE ICONOLOGY OF THE YORUBA "EDAN OGBONI": DENIS WILLIAMS