Ewu Orisa Oko (Herbalist's Staff Sheath)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


For a successful harvest and hunt the Yoruba enlist the help of Oko, the god of agriculture and harvest (literal meaning 'god of the farm'), through the use of opa orisa oko staffs. Made from old iron hoe blades (usually in the cult centre of Irawo, Oyo) and placed in shrines and altars for Oko, it is believed that the iron staff holds the power of Oko.

As a sign of respect to the god, expensive beaded sheaths are created for Orisa Oko's staff. When not being ritually used, the opa orisa oko is covered by a sheath, ewu orisa oko (meaning 'his garment'; sometimes called aso ileke orisa oko (meaning 'clothing of beads')).

Distinguishing Features

    • Beaded sheath made of tiny glass beads of multiple colours
    • Highly adorned with patterns and motifs
    • Triangular flanges decorate the border of the sheath
    • Usually a face is included in the upper portion of the sheath
    • Beaded animals and humans can appear along the length of the sheath

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