staff of office

Wooden staff carved with metal end.

This may be the staff of a diviner or herbalist of the cult of Erinle, the healer god [check]. Eshu-Elegba, the Yoruba trickster god, is depicted in the top section of the staff playing the flute, which is one of his emblems. The figures in the lower divisions of the staff appear to portray devotees holding offerings. Eshu is the orisha (or god) who carries messages between gods and people and is closely related to Ifa - god of divination. The bird at the top of the staff with long beak would appear to allude to witchcraft, which is the source of most human pathology in Yoruba belief. Witches are thought to transform themselves into night birds with long beaks, which peck the heads of their sleeping victims and suck out the vital force causing them to sicken or die. Diviners and herbalists are involved in the work of uncovering the hidden sources of illness and insanity and providing cures. Both specialist are therefore involved in the battle against witchcraft.

Collection Information

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