Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Abbott A. Lippman, Class of 1929
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is the handle of a Yoruba flywhisk.WHERE WAS IT MADE?This was made in the sout(…)
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is the handle of a Yoruba flywhisk.WHERE WAS IT MADE?This was made in the southwest of Nigeria, where the Yoruba people live.HOW WAS IT MADE?This flywhisk handle was hand carved from a piece of wood with tools such as an adze, knives and chisels.HOW WAS IT USED?A sculpted Yoruba flywhisk is rarely simply utilitarian. An object held by members of the aristocracy, and especially royalty, this otherwise humble artifact conveys authority and spiritual power.Flywhisks, used as symbols of power and wealth, are not unique to the Yoruba. The Johnson Museum has flywhisks and flywhisk handles from three other African cultures in its collection: the Hemba of the Democratic Republic of Congo (91.099.013), the Bamun of Cameroon (81.024.011), and the Baule of the Ivory Coast (79.086.003).WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?The figure depicted on this handle may be Eshu Elegba, the Yoruba god of the crossroads, the marketplace and the gateway to the spirit world. Notice how he appears to be holding something up to his mouth; as the herald to the gods, this powerful and mischievous god often holds a whistle or Y-shaped flute up to his mouth. Eshu’s prominent phallus references his associations with youthful vitality and sexual potency.