May 29, 2018

Dance staff for Èṣù (Ògò Èlẹ́gba)

Dance staff for Èṣù (Ògò Èlẹ́gba)


Wood, leather, cowrie shells, seeds, and natural fiber

62 cm (24 7/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 2018.34

Did you know?

If Eshu isn’t properly honored, trouble may befall the community or individual.


Èṣù (also called Èḷégba) embodies the most complex deity in the Yorùbá pantheon of gods. The messenger of the Yorùbá gods, Èṣù is also the bearer of sacrifices, guardian of the ritual way of life, and is associated with highly significant places including crossroads, markets, and home entrances. As seen here, Èṣù's power is often visually represented in Ògò Èḷégba (dance staffs); in this example, the unusually paired man and woman reference his ability to switch between the two genders, turn death into life (through childbirth), and to overcome the tension between the sexes. The male character bears a ritual flute reserved for this god. The abundance of cowrie shells means that Èṣù brings wealth.

See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.