c. 1930s

Wood, beads, and pigment

Overall: 38.7 cm (15 1/4 in.)

Gift of Katherine C. White 1974.207


Dancewands for the thundergod Shango celebrate the power and presence of the divinity. Renowned for his fiery temper, Shango was a powerful warrior king later identified with the thunderous roar and flashing lightening of the storm. The double-bladed stone blade, a key symbol of Shango, is shown at the top. The kneeling female is a follower of Shango. The position of Shango's symbol on the worshipper's head alludes to possession trance when god's spirit enters an individual's inner, spiritual head uniting devotee and deity. The scarification patterns on the double-blade repeat those on the woman's cheeks to suggest the humanity of the god and the sacredness of the devotee.

See also
African Art
African Art
Type of artwork: 

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