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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Yoruba Beaded Works : Yoruba Beaded Sheath for an Orisha Oko Staff
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Yoruba Beaded Sheath for an Orisha Oko Staff - PF.5002
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 59.25" (150.5cm) high x 12.5" (31.8cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Medium: Cloth, Beads

Location: United States
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Long metal staffs, like swords, are forged from hoes taken to a blacksmith in Irawo in northwest Yorubaland who alone may make them. They are owned by a male elder of a village and used in rituals of orisha Oko, or deity of the farm. When not in ritual use the staffs are placed in elaborately beaded sheaths, such as this beautiful example. Bold geometric designs fill the separate panels with rows of triangles alternating black and green between white, pale yellow-green and amber on the upper portion. A checkerboard pattern of green and red bordered by gold comprises the center. The bottom section has two black triangles, (symbols of the regenerative forces in life), with horizontal strands of black and white, turquoise and red in the center and gold at the base. At the top is the abstract face of the deity Oko, set in a large black triangle, whose importance is very great considering the Yoruba are an agricultural people. The asymmetrical patterns of the sheath are intended to show the tension and interplay of negative and positive forces, individualism as opposed to holism, that exists in daily life. Above all this sheath is an object of prestige, of honor and of beauty. - (PF.5002)


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