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July 31, 2016 : SALE CLOSED
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Shango is the Yoruba god of thunder and lightning, and the double-axe motif atop this piece with secondary face is a metaphor for the thunderbolt that Shango hurls down from the sky at those who do not respect him. Oshe Shango are dance wands (such as this piece) that Yoruba deities carry, cradle, wave, and thrust during dances in Shango’s honor. At times they are simply kept a reliquary on a shrine devoted to Shango.
This piece, what some refer to as a paraded or processional finial has a rich patina, a luster that is the result of decades of handling, rubbing, and use with a surface that shines from a combination of shrine applications and polychrome paint. .It is a very attractive, straightforward and honest Shango object.
An outstanding description of the Shango story is provided in Visona,
“Shango, who controls thunder, is associated with the expansion of the Oyo empire in western Yorubaland. The historical personage Shango, a descendant of Oranmiyan, was the tyrannical fourth king of Oyo. Oral traditions maintain that he was a despot, coerced into surrendering his crown and committing suicide. His supporters denied his death and declared that he had become a god, merged with the forces of thunder and lightning, which they could call down on their enemies. The Shango legend illustrates a significant aspect of Yoruba orisha; they are not idealized. Shango was a sacred king, but he is still presented as a remorseless despot whose need for control overstepped the boundaries suitable to political authority. In his attempt to control mystical and magical powers, he was unable to master them and was eventually controlled by them. Once a mortal, Shango did not die, but he commands great powers of nature as an orisha. In dreadful storms he hurls flashes of lightning upon those who do not respect him. These thunderbolts take the form of ancient stone axes that are exposed on the surface of the earth after heavy rains.” (Visona, pg 250)
An additional description is provided by Roberts in “A Sense of Wonder”:
“Shango, the Yoruba god of thunder and lightning, provider of children and protector of twins, was the legendary fourth king of the powerful18th century Oyo Empire. After his death, Shango's supporters obtained powerful medicines to defend Shango's name, raise violent thunderstorms, and cause lightning to strike Shango's enemies. They demanded that Shango be recognized as a god. Fearing Shango's continued vengeance, prayers were said, shrines established, and priestesses initiated as mediators between Shango and his community. This Oshe Shango dance wand is one of the many art forms associated with the reverence of Shango.”
About the Yoruba:
Most of the people who currently inhabit the western state of Nigeria, and some who live in the Republic of Benin and Togo today call themselves Yoruba; but it appears they did not have a common name before the Christian missionaries began to call them “Yoruba” after the language of the Oyo kingdom (Yooba). Oyo is said to have, at one time, been the political center of the Yoruba, and Ife the ritual center. It is said, first settled in Ile-Ife, Yoruba land comprises many independent kingdoms, most of which claim to have originated from Ile-Ife. The Yoruba language has many dialects, some of which are mutually unintelligible. The Yoruba have a pantheon of deities (Orisha) who are under the Supreme Being, Olodumare, who lives in Heaven. There are said to be some four hundred of these deities, representing ancestors and the spirits of natural phenomena like rivers and hills. A broad general style of Yoruba art can be recognized, but there are local variations between kingdoms and within a kingdom. (Bacquart, Tribal Arts of Africa)
|Lot ID: 103|
|Low Estimate: $2,000|
|High Estimate: $4,000|
|Next Bid: $1,000|
|Sale ID: 6|
|Sale Date: July 28, 2016|
|Sale Location: Virtual Auction|
|Sale Sponsor: African Artworks from Berz Gallery of African Art|
|Sale Terms: View here|
|Live Bidding Link: SALE CLOSED|
|Location of Origin: Africa|
|Medium/Materials: wood, stain, encrustation|
|Dimensions: 20" (50.8 cm) height x 7.5" (19.05 cm) width|
|Primary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Country - Nigeria|
|Secondary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Object Type - Other|
|The word ‘Yoruba’ describes both a language and a tribe living across Nigeria and the Popular Republic of Benin, in an area of forest and savannah. Their origins can be traced back to the end of the first millennium like the civilization of Ife. Following the collapse of the Ife civilization, a number of kingdoms such as the Ijebu and the Oyo emerged. They, in turn, disintegrated during the 18th and 19th centuries, but were revived by the colonial powers at the end of the 19th century and today still form the political structure of the Yoruba people. The enormous scale of the slave trade in Nigeria contributed to the Diaspora of the Yoruba people and informed spiritual practices in countries such as Haiti (Ref: Bacquart, “Tribal Arts of Africa”; Beckwith and Fisher, “African Ceremonies”; Fagg, Pemberton and Holcombe, “Yoruba,” 1982). Yoruba culture and links to traditional Yoruba religion and belief systems are integrated heavily in an area that spans the Caribbean and Southern United States and Cuba, Brazil and Latin America, and throughout parts of Europe and Africa. Further expertise:Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, Drewal, Pemberton III, Abiodun, Wardwell, Ibeji, Chemeche, Yoruba: An Art of Life, Cooksey and Mato, Ibeji: The Cult of Yoruba Twins, Chemeche|
|Provenance: Ex. Private US Collection, Exhibition History: Vetted as antique and authentic by a committee of tribal art experts and exhibited at BRUNEAF, Brussels, June 2015|
|Price:||Price on Request|
|Offered By:||CLOSED: African Artworks : 146 Lots : July 28-30|
|Contact:||The Curator's Eye|
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