African Art
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Bamgboye of Odo-Owa, Yoruba, ca. 1895–1978

Equestrian Shrine Figure

early to mid-20th century

Wood and pigment

74 x 35.5 cm (29 1/8 x 14 in.)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
2006.51.86
This sculptural group was carved for a shrine for the goddess Oya, wife of Shango, god of thunder and lightning. The central figure, a priestess of Oya, is mounted on horseback and holds a royal fan and a rooster for sacrifice. On her forehead is the inverted double-celt staff of Shango. On her left are a trumpeter and a soldier; on her right, a male and female couple stands with a drummer. Behind her, another female figure seated on the horse carries the ritual bags of a Shango priest. The horse’s reins are held by a royal servant and messenger. The equestrian priestess’s cool composure is conveyed by her expressionless face, her perfectly balanced posture, and the colors of white and blue.
Geography: 
Made in Odo-Owa, Eketi state, Guinea Coast, Nigeria
Culture: 
Yoruba
Classification: 
Sculpture
Status: 
On view
Bibliography: 

Roslyn Adele Walker, African Women / African Art, exh. cat. (New York, NY: African-American Institute, 1976), 27, no. 36, fig. 13.

William B. Fagg, Yoruba, Sculpture of West Africa, ed. B. Holcombe (New York: Pace Primitive, 1982), 126 -127, no. 37, fig. 37.

Susan Vogel and Jerry L. Thompson, Closeup: Lessons in the Art of Seeing African Sculpture from an American Collection and the Horstmann Collection, exh. cat. (New York: The Center for African Art, 1990), 144–45, fig. 74.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222, 227, ill.

Frederick John Lamp, “Hot Space, Cool Space: The Reinstallation of the African Art Collection in the Louis Kahn Building at Yale University,” African Arts 40 (Summer 2007): 42, 45, fig. 9, 17.

George Chemeche, ed., The Horse Rider in African Art (London: Antique Collector’s Club Ltd., 2011), 120–21.

Frederick John Lamp, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 121, ill.

Christine Kreamer, African Cosmos: Stellar Arts, exh. cat. (New York: The Monacelli Press, 2012), 216–17, fig. 12.1.

“The Explainers,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2013): 66, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.

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