Yoruban Esu Dance Staff
This is something stumbled across and I thought it would be interesting to share the information I have gathered with you.
Serving as a dance staff, priestly insignia, and altar sculpture, this Yoruba object honors the deity Esu (a orisha), divine mediator and transformer of destinies, protector of travellers and the deity of roads. Esu, also known as Elegba or Eshu, plays a role in the Yoruba pantheon of orisa, or "spirit beings."
As spirit messenger and intermediary, Esu bears offerings and prayers to the god of divination, Orunmila or lfa. The Ifa system of divination reveals the cause of and solutions to the problems that arise in one's life journey.
One of the praise names of Esu is the Roadmaker, who opens the way through correct ritual. As an activator of forces that transform and reshape, Esu is unpredictable and can create confusion, deception, and conflict.
This dance staff is a fab example of Yoruban ways of life. When set in motion by a priest dancing in homage to Esu, the strands of cowrie shell, money and other attachments visually emphasize the musical beats and the dancer's movements.
Even when the staff is resting on an altar, its kinetic nature is suggested in the fluid strands of cowries, coins, and shells symbolizing the flow of wealth that homage to Esu can provide.
Each object has a particular meaning or reference, from the carved flute seen at the left back (an allusion to Esu's messenger role) to the stuffed and braided medicinal packet at left-center (indicating spiritual and temporal powers).
Invoking the dynamic relationship of earthly and metaphysical powers, the sculptor offers a visual pun in the formal interplay of Esu's knifelike hair braid, the rigid tube sack of medicine he holds out for display, and the thrust of the elongated phallus. In Yoruba cosmology, the head is the seat of spiritual or individual power.
Hope you found that at least mildly interesting, especially if you are into the Yoruban religion on their ways of life.