African Art

Emblem (Edan)

18th–19th century

Brass and iron

23 5/8 × 11 × 3 5/8 in. (60 × 27.9 × 9.2 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
Paired male and female edan, figurative staffs, are presented to elder men upon their initiation into the higher ranks of the Òsugbó society of Yoruba elders. In this pair, the female holds a baby and the male smokes a pipe. In use, the staffs are worn suspended by a chain from an individual’s neck and symbolize the union of male and female–a force of primordial unity invoked in times of disharmony among community members. The staffs may be placed at the site of a dispute to reconcile the parties, adjudicate claims, or atone for violations.
Guinea Coast, Nigeria
Ìjèbú Yorùbá, Òsugbó (Ògbóni) association
18th–19th century
Tools and Equipment

Galerie Balolu (Gerbrand Luttik), Amsterdam: unknown date - November 16, 1989
Charles B. Benenson Collection, donated to Yale University Art Gallery in 2004


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

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), 267, 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.