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Staff for Osanyin

Culture Yorùbá
Title Staff for Osanyin (Opa Osanyin)
Date 19th–mid 20th century
Medium Iron
Dimensions Object: 25 1/8 × 9 × 9 7/8 in. (63.8 × 22.9 × 25.1 cm)
Overall: 25 1/8 × 9 × 9 7/8 in. (63.8 × 22.9 × 25.1 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Dr. Joseph L. Sheriden, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 73.75.2

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About this Work

The motif of gathering birds is common among the Yoruba peoples. Within the court at Oyo, messengers carried an iron staff surmounted with birds that was an indication of their elevated status and identified their position.

Associated with Osanyin, the god of health, diviners for their role as healers used this iron staff. With the appearance of a small tree with birds, the staff refers to the forest, a great source of medicine, and to the negative power of witches, often referred to as a gathering of birds. In addition, to their work as healers, diviners also work against the power of witches.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

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"Staff for Osanyin | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.