22″ Tall 55.9 cm)
24 Collection – Florida, USA.
Yoruba Shango Dance Wand. On this fine, the subject is carved as a suppliant female devotee of Shango, the Yoruba thunder deity. Her bulging, semi-circular eyes; pierced pupils, a flat nose; and pursed lips, are all suggestive of an Egbado provenance. Her breasts are full and proudly proffered. Its contours have been rounded by handling, and the wood has developed a rich hue. The devotee is carved with an over-sized thunderbolt, edun ara, on her head. This aspect symbolizes one’s destiny and burden. (The thunderbolt is a symbol of Shango.) Balancing the thunderbolt on one’s head is a metaphor for balancing the great power of Shango – the power that creates empires, but which also requires great care not to exceed its limits, which would bring about destruction.
Such a dance wands was carried by devotees at the annual festival of Shango and on other ritual occasions. During the Shango festival, devotees would dance in the streets to the thunderous rhythms of the bata drums. The dance wand would have presented a dramatic image when seen in the hand of a dancing devotee. It was waved in violent and threatening gestures to imitate the dangerous powers of Shango: unpredictable, violent, and creative and destructive – all at the same time. The Shango ritual would reach a climax when one of the devotees became possessed by Shango himself.