Yoruba artist
Nigeria, Oyo
Shango dance wand (Oshe Shango), late 19th century
15 5/8 × 7 5/16 × 4 3/16 in. (39.7 × 18.6 × 10.6 cm.)
Museum purchase  1972.40

From Aggressive to Serene
This sculpture once topped a dance wand carried by a devotee of the god Shango. During spirited worship, the dancer became possessed by the god, symbolized by the double-axe projecting from the figure’s head. Shango was a volatile king who later became the Yoruba god of thunder. People who cannot control their anger may become followers of Shango, whose religious practices help them attain selfcontrol and may bring them prosperity. The face of the woman depicted here is calm and cool, expressing the restraint she has gained through her faith.