Carved wooden staff in form of human head

1860-1900 in Nigeria
Yoruba people

Carved wooden staff tapering column surmounted by a human head probably representing Shapona (Shopono), amuletic concerned with smallpox, Yoruba people, Nigeria, 1860-1900

Sapona (Shapona) is the eldest son of the Yoruba creator god Olodumare. He was given control of the earth with the power to reward or punish its inhabitants. Smallpox was seen as a punishment - an indication of divine displeasure whereby the grains of the earth eaten by man emerge on the skin.

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Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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