Beautifully pigmented Yoruba Shango staff with brass, glass beads, & cowrie shell embellishments.
History: When not in active use, its fine details would have been visible on an altar to Shango, a deified former king of the Yoruba city of Oyo. In public, the staff would have been carried by a woman or man inducted into the priesthood of Shango. These priests invite Shango to possess them, making the deity accessible to the gathered worshippers.
In this possession trance, the priests dance with a sculpture like this one held in their left hands, a signal that the occasion is outside of the realm of normal life, where one would use the right hand for most tasks.
Origin: Nigeria / Benin