Wood, paint, cowrie shells, and plant fiber
Overall: 149.5 x 7.5 x 8 cm (58 7/8 x 2 15/16 x 3 1/8 in.)
Gift of Phyllis Sloane in memory of Rose White 1998.85
Rattle staffs (ukhuhrẹ) like this are still used in the Benin Kingdom today.
Rattle staffs (ukhuhrẹ) are instruments of memory and sound. Though this staff represented a single elite man, it evokes the individuals in his lineage. Inspired by bamboo, it is divided into segments that link three carved men dressed in coral-beaded finery. Benin courtiers still carry these staffs during celebrations and rituals. By banging the staff on the ground, a rattling sound emanates from its open center, where a wooden cylinder rolls freely. The noise alerts ancestral spirits to prayers offered on their behalf. When not in use, they are stored on ancestral altars.
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