Crown of Obatala (Ade Obatala)


Yoruba Artist (Nigeria)


Late nineteenth–early twentieth century


Glass beads, cloth, fiber, and leather


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Gift of Bernard and Patricia Wagner in memory of Erintunde Orisayomi Ogunseye Thurmon

Accession #


On View

On View - Stent Family Wing, Skyway, Gallery 401

A Yoruba king (oba) is identified in public by a conical, beaded crown (adé) with a veil that transforms him into a living embodiment of Odùduwà, regarded as the first king of the Yoruba people. The bird at the top of the crown recalls the Yoruba creation narrative, which describes how Odùduwà used a bird to create the first land in Ilè Ifè at the beginning of time. The bird identifies the king as a descendant of Odùduwà and emphasizes his role as an intermediary between his subjects and the òrìsà, or gods, in the same way that a bird mediates between heaven and earth.

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