Cloth, beads, thread, cardboard, leather
H: 36.5 cm, W: 36.5 cm, D: 3.5 cm (H: 14.3 in, W: 14.3 in, D: 1.3 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Hammer. X92.178
This bag is probably a beaded laba Sango (leather bag). The size, dimensions, and triangular and zigzag motifs that cover the surface, as well as the six sawtooth panels that extended outward around the perimeter, all suggest connections with the thundergod Sango. The decorated laba holds the deity’s witnessing object, an edun ara (stone celt) whose shape is often rendered as a triangle in Yoruba iconography. Rows of triangles march across the space above; below, an enlarged, three-color zigzag pattern suggests the flash of a bolt of lightning, the crack of thunder, the head and smell of fire and smoke. Faces, whose mouths are formed of the deity’s sacred colors (red, white), remind us of Sango’s worldly exploits before he became one of the “chosen heads” or orisa. The flanking position of faces intensifies the zigzag’s energetic movement. The triangular border flaps, like those surrounding and enclosing the gbala panels of Egungun maskers (intimately associated with Sango and the Oyo-Yoruba), signals the presence of sealed, secure protection and empowerment.
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 244