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Rattle Staff (ukhuhre)

1900s
Overall: 149.5 x 7.5 x 8 cm (58 7/8 x 2 15/16 x 3 1/8 in.)
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Did You Know?

Rattle staffs (ukhuhrẹ) like this are still used in the Benin Kingdom today.

Description

Rattle staffs (ukhuhrẹ) are instruments of memory and sound. Though this staff represented a single elite man, it evokes the individuals in his lineage. Inspired by bamboo, it is divided into segments that link three carved men dressed in coral-beaded finery. Benin courtiers still carry these staffs during celebrations and rituals. By banging the staff on the ground, a rattling sound emanates from its open center, where a wooden cylinder rolls freely. The noise alerts ancestral spirits to prayers offered on their behalf. When not in use, they are stored on ancestral altars.
Rattle Staff (ukhuhre)

Rattle Staff (ukhuhre)

1900s

Nigeria, Benin Kingdom, Ẹdo peoples, member(s) of the Igbesanmwan (wood and ivory carvers) guild

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