Nigerian Eshu Cult Figure
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This is a figure of a man, carved from dark wood, standing on a round base. The carved features include bulging eyes, a prominent forehead, and hair that starts on the forehead and extends back into a long point. The cheeks are cut with parallel lines indicating scarification. A necklace of blue glass beads encircles the neck; there is also another necklace from which several strings of cowrie shells hang down past the base of the carving. The figure holds a drum in his left hand underneath the shells. Eshu, one of many deities in the Yoruban pantheon, is the messenger of the gods and guardian of the cross-roads. He helps manipulate the destiny of humans. He is the only deity actually protrayed in Yoruban art and is given an offering at the start of every ritual to ensure its success. Eshu figures are usually adorned with beads and cowrie shells, both of which signify wealth and prosperity. This example holds a drum in his left hand. Long hair is associated with unrestrained energy and sexual aggressiveness. Compare Eshu to the Western gods Hermes (Greek) or Mercury (Roman). African Folk Tales; African Novel Study 16 History; 18 Social Systems; 25-27 Fine Arts
|Yoruba (African people) Social life and customs|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University Library|
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