X67.871 Flute

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Fere Esu-Eleba (flute of an Esu-Eleba priest)
Yoruba peoples
Cowrie shells, ivory
L: 30.5 cm, D: 11.5 cm (L: 12.0 in, 4.5 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust. X67.871


Priests of Esu-Eleba, divine messenger and guardian of the crossroads and markets, play such ivory flutes to call down the deity and hasten the possession trances of other orisa priests. The long strands of beaded cowries recall the bundles of shell currency used in the markets of Yorubaland and beyond.

Source: Drewal, H., Mason, J. (1998). “Beads, Body, and Soul – Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 26