Old Edan Ogboni (Osugbo Staff) – Yoruba – Nigeria
Bronze. The female and the male figures are cm. 14,0 high. Grams 426,8.
Headed by the Oluwo (chief priest), the Yoruba Ogboni (meaning ‘cult of old age’) is a society of respected elderly men and women responsible for the management and wellbeing of their community through the maintenance of law and order – often with the power to sentence criminals to death. They are also responsible for the selection and eventual burial of the Oba (‘king’) of the town and even have the power to expel the king should the group deem him unfit to rule.
Ogboni lodges were one of the main commissioners of brass jewelry and sculpture in pre-colonial Yorubaland, using the metal’s rust-resistant qualities as an apt metaphor for the immortal functions and beliefs of Ogboni adepts. The most recognizable of these symbols was a pair of Ogboni initiates, one male and one female, attached by a chain and worn around the neck. The pair are thought to symbolize the attachment of the sexes in procreation and balanced society. Generally, one or both figures will hold a thumb in the grip of the opposite hand, demonstrating the paramount Ogboni handsign denoting initiation and membership.
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