Diviners have a vast knowledge of nature -- human, animal, and plant-related. They are able to use the protective powers of the forest to heal people. Iron staffs like the one shown here are used in healing.

They are called opa osanyin. The iron material and the miniature forged arrows, swords and bells attached to the staff, proclaim the power of the god of iron, Ogun. Ogun helps the healer penetrate the dense forests and obtain healing substances.

The staffs take the form of trees with birds gathering at the top. The birds symbolize the forests, which are the source of medicine and healing. They also represent witches, who change into birds to attack their victims at night. So the presence of birds on the staff relate to both the healing substances found in the forest and the spirits that the healers are trying to combat.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University,
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and Dallas Museum of Art
For more information please contact odyssey@emory.edu.
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