Beaded gourd rattle
Gourd, cloth, glass beads, thread
L: 30 cm, Diam: 9.0 cm (L: 11.8 in, Diam: 3.5 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Ralph B. Lloyd Foundation. X70.684a,b
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 245
Followers of the thunder god Sango use a gourd rattle to invoke the deity at ceremonies in his honor. Filled with seeds or small stones, it creates a distinctive sound, not unlike a heavy downpour of rain during a storm. Sango, fourth Alaafin (king) of the Oyo-Yoruba, was a fierce warrior with a temperamental, volatile personality. After his departure, he became deified and associated with the explosive forces of the thunderstorm, especially the roar of the thunder and the blinding flash of lightning. Encircling the gourd rattle are five zigzag bands, often identified by Yorubas as manamana, bolts of lightning piercing the sky. Each matches the size of gourd, the broadest band surrounding the bulging sphere at the top from where the sound emanates. Beaded birds cling to this sphere; their position at the four cardinal points signal an invisible intersection. This is the crossroads or orita between the otherworldly realm of Sango and the world of his followers who, shaking the gourd rattle, call upon him to cross this cosmic threshold and join their ranks.