Showcasing the art and ritual of the African and African-diaspora religions

Pano (Paño) for Elegguá

Catalog Number: B002


41" x 41"

104.14 mm x 104.14 mm


Ethnographic Origin: African-American
Materials: Cloth
Date of Manufacture: 06/2011
Usage: N/A
Detailed Description of Significance:

Red and black are the colors associated with the orisha Elegguá, as are the cowry shells. Frequently Elegguá is depicted as a triangular substance (generally rock) with cowry shells for a face. The garabato, a tool used to harvest sugar cane, is also frequently associated with this oricha.

According to Santería/Ocha mythology,  Elegguá is the favorite son of Olofi, the high god. He is considered a mischievous and greedy oricha.  Elegguá also has the power to open and close the gates to Heaven and Earth and is also the messenger/mediator between mortals and the orichas, which is why he must always be fed and taken care of first (to ensure that any prayers, rituals, or supplications to the other orichas will be well received).

He is also associated with protection: as the mediator between humans and orichas, he is the first line of defense if something is wrong. This is why he is frequently depicted behind a door. Every religious ceremony must begin and end with some kind of acknowledgement of Elegguá. While this is generally a hymn to call him forth, feeding Elegguá first (placing food offerings in front of him before the other orichas receive their offerings) is an acceptable way to call upon Elegguá at the beginning of the ceremony.