DescriptionYoruba (Nigeria or Benin, Western Africa)
Height: 48 inches
Iron staffs are used by traditional medical specialists to protect and heal the sick. According to Yoruba beliefs, female spirits can transform into birds during the night and steal vitality from members of the community causing disease or other misfortunes. In order to combat these malevolent forces, specialists embedded an iron staff into the ground near the ill person. These staffs often depict a central bird surrounded by smaller birds. The large bird representing Osanyin, a Yoruba deity related to divination and medicine. The smaller birds represent the malicious female witches.
This staff features abstracted and simplified forms forged out of iron. Three metal sheets make up the body of the central bird leading into a curve suggesting the neck and head. Projecting from the central post are sixteen elements ending in five points. These represent very abstracted birds. Sixteen is important in Yoruba numerology referencing early kingship among the Yoruba and the act of divination. Lower on the staff is another set of twelve projecting elements.
There is damage to the band of smaller birds, but otherwise staff is in good condition.
Estimate: $1,000 - $1,500.
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