Human

By Carla Herling
Drake University (formerly University of Iowa)

Objects used in the worship of Shango more commonly represent those women who have received his blessings that they do the orisha (god) himself.  This oshe Shango (dance wand for Shango) shows a woman whom Shango has blessed carrying a tiny oshe Shango in her left hand and an emblem of Oya, Shango's wife and deity of the River Niger over her right shoulder.  She balances on her head the edan ara (twin thunder celts), the bolts of lightning Shango hurls from the sky to blast those who offend him.  The figure stands above a handle to be grasped by the follower or priestess as she dances, alternately thrusting the staff away from her body and then drawing it to her breast to communicate the sudden overwhelming and seemingly capricious nature of Shango. 

Initiates into the priesthood of Shango, Ipari-Nla, northwestern Ijebu area, Nigeria, 1986. Photo by H. J. Drewal and M. T. Drewal.