Yoruba Maternity Shango Sceptre, Nigeria #512

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  • Yoruba Maternity Shango Sceptre, Nigeria #512
  • Date/Period: Mid 20th century
  • Origin: Nigeria
  • Materials: Wood
  • Measurements: 19.69"
  • Note: Stand not included.
  • Masterfully sculpted by a Yoruba Artist, this dance staff is topped by a Maternity Figure. When not in active use, its fine details would have been visible on an aAltar dedicated to Orisha Shango, a Deified former King of the Yoruba city of Oyo.
  • In public, the staff would have been carried by a woman or man inducted into the Priesthood of Shango. These Priests invite Shango to possess them, making the Deity accessible to the gathered worshippers. In this Possession Trance, the Priests dance with a sculpture like this one held in their left hands, a signal that the occasion is outside of the realm of normal life, where one would use the right hand for most tasks.
  • A Shango Priestess stands atop the staff, her knees flexed and body bent forward from the hips, ready to dance. The child strapped to her back turns its head to look to the right, its hands curled under the woman’s arms in a tender gesture. The baby refers to Shango’s power in granting children, as well as to the woman’s purity. Young Yoruba Mothers remained celibate until their children had finished nursing, a state of purity that aided their spiritual life.
  • Perched above the woman’s hair, a double axe, with an ornamental pattern on the wrapped portion in the center, creates a sort of Crown. The axe is made of two stones called Celts, thought by Devotees to have been sent by Shango Himself, who is associated with Thunder and Lightening, and collected in Shango’s Shrines. The Celts on this dance staff are the most important element of the staff from a Spiritual perspective, while the fine sculpture of a mother in the center of the staff draws the eye.
  • Shango is  also believed the Protector of Twins, whose occurrence is very common among the Yoruba.
  • Shango is a Deity feared by His unpredictability. He is venerated because He is supposed to bring beneficial rains to crops. It is also to Shango that the Fertility of Women is attributed.
  • Yoruba Society is highly organized and has several Associations with varying roles. While Egbe Male Society reinforces Social Norms, the Aro unites Farmers. The Gelede has more esoteric and Religious aims. The notables meet in a Society called Esusu.