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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, attributed to: Moshood Olúṣọmọ Bámigbóyè, Kajola, near Odo-Owa, Kwara State, Nigeria, ca. 1885–1975

Equestrian Shrine Figure

early to mid-20th century

Wood and pigment

29 1/8 × 14 in. (74 × 35.5 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
This sculptural group was part of a shrine for the goddess Oya, wife of Sàngó, deified king of Old Oyo and god of thunder and lightening. 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 Sàngó. On her left are a trumpeter and a soldier; on her right, a male and female couple stands with a drummer. Behind her on the horse, a male figure donning a female hairstyle carries the ritual bags of a Sàngó priest. A royal servant and messenger hold the horses reins. The equestrian priestess’s cool composure is conveyed by her expressionless face, her perfectly balanced posture, and the colors of white and blue.
Kajola, near Odo-Owa, Kwara State, Nigeria
20th century

John Friede (born 1938), New York. Pace Gallery, New York, to March 27, 1980; sold to Charles B. Benenson, Greenwich, Conn, 1980; bequeathed to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2004

Note: This work was first exhibited in the United States in the exhibition ‘African Women / African Art’ curated by Roslyn Walker at the African-American Institute, New York, Sept. 13-Dec.31, 1976.


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: Museum 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, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, 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.