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Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB

Staff for Esu/Elegba Cult (Ogo Elegba)

Widely admired for the variety, quality, and quantity of their sculpture, the sixteen groups who make up the Yoruba peoples live in southwestern Nigeria and the eastern part of the Republic of Benin. Most members of their extraordinarily large pantheon of deities—estimates range from several hundred to well over a thousand—are worshipped in limited areas of Yorubaland, but a few are universally recognized with sculpture of a prescribed form. One of those is Esu (sometimes written “Eshu”), also known as Elegba, a deity, or orisa, who, paradoxically, creates confusion and disorder while at the same time offering the means for achieving balance and harmony through his role as messenger between gods and people.

Yoruba peoples (Oyo subgroup), Nigeria
Staff for Esu/Elegba Cult (Ogo Elegba)
Before 1930s (?)
Wood, leather, cowrie shells, brass, bone, iron
H. 19 ¼ in. (50.7 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 87.24.2