This virtual guided tour explores the contested origin histories of brass bracelets, cowrie shells, and glass beads in Yoruba culture and practice. Specifically, this compares both Western scholarly perspectives and those of religious practitioners in order to glean answers to the questions: Where did these objects come from and why are they so important?
Perhaps the preeminent theme of orixá liturgy is hierarchy among the priests and other attendants. And, in most of these religions, a large proportion of the visitors from the other world are identified as either monarchs or slaves.
Șango is a Yoruba god of thunder and lightning with a counterpart in Cuba called “Changó” and another in Brazil called “Xangô.” In each of these locales, the god appears anthropomorphically in the bodies of elegantly arrayed possession priests, but his virile and fiery spirit is just as powerfully manifest in lightning, mortars, rams, tortoises, okra, thunderstones, and the double axe. Through the example of Șango and allied gods around the Atlantic perimeter, this tour explores the unity and the diversity of sacred iconography in diverse countries, as well as the meaning and aesthetics of this prolific Yoruba-Atlantic artistic tradition.