Yoruba artist
Nigeria, Ijebu, Ikorodu
Horse and Rider (Babalawo Eleshin), 19th‑20th century
Wood, pigment
13 5/8 × 7 5/8 × 3 3/8 in. (34.6 × 19.4 × 8.6 cm.)
Purchased with funds from the Alice Speed Stoll Accessions Trust
Restored by income from the Marguerite Montgomery Baquie Memorial Trust, 2004  2004.4

A Man of Knowledge and Power
The curved ivory staff held by this equestrian figure identifies him as an Ifa divination priest. The Yoruba call him babalawo, “father of secrets.” Priests who practice divination use such staffs to tap trays like the one here to summons Ifa, the god of wisdom, to oversee the proceedings. The sculptor uses graceful lines and elongated shapes to convey the benign demeanor of the priest.