Shango staff

early to mid-20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Nigeria


54.61 cm (21 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)


Africa and Oceania



The Yoruba religious world has a pantheon of deities called orishas, whose identities and attributes are recorded in ritual objects. Priests and devotees of Shango, the fiery god of thunder and lightning, commission dance staffs to invoke his striking power and protection. These usually depict a sensuous female figure bearing on her head the twin celts or double-axe emblem of Shango. This polished staff, which includes a child on the woman’s back, may have come from the Agbegi compound of Ijomu in the Igbomina-Oro region.


Sold by Peter Wengraf, Arcade Gallery, London, to Claude Bentley (b. 1915 - d. 1990), Highland Park, IL [see note]. February 10, 1979, sold by Pace Primitive and Ancient Art, New York, to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1991, year-end gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 22, 1992)

NOTE: Yale Van Rijn Archive of African Art, no. 0043354.

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel