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

Staff (opaxorô) of  the God Oxalufã

Catalog Number: C001


Mário Proença.  It had been commissioned by high priest Amilton Sacramento Costa, of the Jeje nation of Brazilian Candomblé.  However, Mr. Costa allowed Prof. Matory to buy it.


160 cm L, 14 cm W



Religion and Denomination: Candomble Jeje
Transatlantic Family of Religion: Orisha
Country of Origin: Brazil
Ethnographic Origin: Brazilian (Brazil)
Materials: Metal
Date of Manufacture: 12/1987
Usage: Ritual (non-yet-used)
Detailed Description of Significance:

Oxalá is the oldest of the orixás and walks hunched over, using the staff to support him. Because he is the lord of purity and whiteness, white and silver are his colors. This staff, or opaxorô, is carried specifically by the oldest avatar, or road, of Oxalá, Oxalufã.

Normally these staffs have only three tiers, but this one has six with a crown and dove at the top. The dove is significant as it represents peace and is the preferred sacrificial animal of Oxalá. The pendants hanging from each tier are meant to represent Oxalá and the other orixás associated with him. For example, the fish represents the goddess of the sea Iemanjá, the butterfly Iansã, and the bell all the orixás collectively.  

Though this object is not specifically used to induce possession, the tinkling sound of the pendants hitting each other is reminiscent of the rattling sounds of possession inducing xequerés.  Sounds play an important role in Candomblé.

Oxalá is often syncretized with Jesus Christ, much in the same way other orixás are associated with Catholic saints. Though some practitioners of the religion argue against such syncretism, from a learning perspective it allows one to better grasp the nature of some of the orixás through comparisons with other figures with whom the outsider or novice may be more familiar with.