Yoruba artist
Nigeria, Owo
Ceremonial sword (Udamalore) and beaded scabbard (Ewu), 19th ‑ 20th century
Sword: iron, glass beads, cotton, raffia
Scabbard: glass beads, cotton, felt, raffia, copper alloy, wood, animal pelt
16 1/4 × 20 1/4 × 1 3/4 in. (41.3 × 51.4 × 4.4 cm.) (overall)
Purchased with funds from the Alice Speed Stoll Accessions Trust  2003.7.1 a,b

A Symbolic Sword
This sword was never used in battle. The beaded sheath made it an impractical weapon. Instead, it formed part of an elaborate ceremonial costume worn by a high-ranking chief. Impressive court dress was considered essential for kings and chiefs in the Yoruba kingdom of Owo. The most prestigious leadership costume included ceremonial swords, such as this, worn on the hip as emblems of status and prestige. The glass beads, an expensive trade item, implied wealth and high standing. The white rams’ heads may symbolize strength and alertness, qualities of an effective leader.