|Yoruba People, Nigeria, circa 1880|
These two figures known asﾠedanﾠhave been cast in brass over iron rods. Each is a figure of the opposite sex and is in a sitting position. They are linked by aﾠchain attached to loops to the tops of their heads. The figures resembleﾠOnile, the owner of the earth, in both male and female forms. Even though the figures have the characteristic Yoruba features: almond-shaped eyes with heavy eye-lids, flared nostrils and fine lips; but their faces are express wisdom andﾠauthority.
The male figure has a chiselled beard and a protruding penis. He wears anﾠedanﾠaround his neck which he holds with his left hand. His right hand holds aﾠceremonial knife.
The female figure wears a chiselled necklace. Her gesture of holding her breast is a reference to the traditional female role of providing nourishment or care, aﾠreference toﾠOnile provision for humanity. This gesture corresponds to the formal salutation between theﾠOgboniﾠmembers where they prostrate upon theﾠground, clench their fists together with the left on top of the right with thumbs hidden, and the elder kisses the ground three times and each time declares,ﾠ"the mother breasts are sweet." Based on the forms of the figures, thisﾠedanﾠprobably was worn by a higher if not the highest rankedﾠOgboniﾠmemberﾠparticularly in ceremonies worshiping the Mother Earth.
The set has a superb dark patina and contours softened by age and ritual use.
|Location of Origin: Africa|
|Primary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art|
|Edan are among the most fascinating sculptured objects in Yoruba culture. They are presented to an initiate into the higher ranks of a secret society,ﾠOgboniﾠorﾠOshugbo.ﾠOgboniﾠis one of the most prominent Yoruba religious cult societies, which worships the owner of the earth,ﾠOnile. Its prime function is toﾠharmonise all spirits and forces of nature. It is lead by the eldest and wisest man and woman from the community. Theﾠedanﾠwere worn around initiatesﾒ necks,ﾠas symbols of rank, at society meetings and ceremonies. The casting over an iron rod signifies the union of the magical forces associated with brass and iron.|
The non-rusting character of brass symbolises immortality - the desire for longevity and well-being. The union of the male and female figures by a chainﾠrepresents the duality ofﾠOnile.ﾠOgboniﾠveneratesﾠOnileﾠto ensure human survival, peace, happiness, and social stability in the community.
The edan are used in five main functions: judicial, oracular, healing, protective, and communication/surveillance (Roache, 1971). For the judicial role, it isﾠbelieved that anﾠedanﾠplaced upright by its spike on the ground will fall should a man not confess his guilt. For its oracular role, it is required to be present with its owner inﾠifaﾠdivination for predicting the owner? future. TheﾠOgboniﾠsociety has its ownﾠodu, a set of sacred verses of the spiritual and ethical tradition ofﾠifa, predictions; that relate to both mundane and spiritual prescriptions. For the healing role, theﾠedanﾠare sometimes shaped like a spoon for medicineﾠpreparation. For the protective role, theﾠedanﾠare worn or carried to keep the bearer from harm and witchcraft. For the communication and surveillance role,ﾠthe edan are believed to have the power to travel in the form of a bird to disseminate messages as well as to watch over people.
According to Williams (1960), theﾠOgboniﾠbelieved that a union of twoﾠOgboniﾠbecomes three. The third entity is a mystery or a secret that sprung from theﾠunion of male and female as demonstrated in theﾠedan. The secret may refer to the completion of life: from kneeling before the High God or FatherﾠOlodumare, receiving a personal destinyﾠori, entering the world of sexual, social, political and religious differentiation and opposition (Fagg & Pembertonﾠ1982). Theﾠedanﾠoften was placed in places of conflict to demonstrate unity, reconciliation and adjudication of differences among mankind, and ultimately withﾠthe earth. TheﾠOgboniﾠsociety acted as a town council, a civic court, and even controlled over regents in local monarchies. Membership implied power andﾠprestige, and this status generally was reinforced through the commissioning of religious and courtly paraphernalia. Williams (1964) argues thatﾠOgboniﾠartﾠwas absolute, static and linear as opposed to the formal theme of Yoruba carving: abstract, dynamic and architectonic. The membership is limited to the fewﾠpeople who achieve distinction through their profession and who prove to be of high integrity.ﾠOgboniﾠsocieties still exist among more traditional Yoruba today, but not to the same extent.
References: Bacquart, J. B.,ﾠThe Tribal Arts of Africa, Thames & Hudson, 1998.Fagg, W. & Pemberton, J. III.,ﾠYoruba: Sculpture of West Africa, Collins, 1982.Roache, L.E., 'Psychophysical attributes of theﾠOgboni Edan', inﾠAfrican Arts,ﾠ14(3): 483, 1971.Williams, D., "The Iconology of the Yoruba Edan Ogboni" inﾠAfrica: Journal of the International African Institute, Cambridge University Press and InternationalﾠAfrican Institute, 1964.Williams, P. M., "The YorubaﾠOgboniﾠCult in Oyo" inﾠAfrica: Journal of the International African Institute, Cambridge University Press and International AfricanﾠInstitute, 1960.
|Provenance: UK art market|
|Price:||Item has been sold.|
|Offered By:||Items for sale from dealers we worked with previously|
121 Mount Vernon, Boston, MA 02108 USA
Item has been sold.
Please login before inquiring about this item, or adding it to your Favorites list. If you do not have a client login, please register.