Eldest and wisest community members among the Yoruba in Nigeria belong to the Ogboni  society. Both men and women can be selected to participate. They act as a court of law.

As they enter the cult house, each member has to make a special salute: they prostrate on the ground, fists clenched together, left over right, hiding the thumbs (as on the male figure here). The elder kisses the ground three times, announcing "the Mothers breasts are Sweet"

Edan are the among the most fascinating of the Yoruba sculptures - they are the paired cast figures of the Ogboni. Usually joined by a chain at the top, Edan represent the original founding couple. By extension, they represent the community and witnesses to the ancient law. The seated Edan figures here are shown performing ritual acts as directed by their position in the society. Notice the clenched fists, the breasts held, the characteristic crescents on the foreheads, facing in the opposite directions representing duality, complementarity and doubling.

The third person portrayed in this casting might illustrate  the expression of "two Ogboni it becomes three"


Featured item Y12M2B1182



Written by Vera Raskin — January 24, 2014

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