Pair of Figures (Edan Ogboni)


Yoruba Artist (Nigeria)


Late nineteenth–early twentieth century


Brass and iron


14 x 9 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches


Gift of Bernard and Patricia Wagner

Accession #


On View

Currently not on view

The male and female pair in Ògbóni iconography represents two different aspects of the same phenomenon. This can be inferred from the description of Mother Earth as “the male-like female” and from the Yoruba equation of maleness with harshness or hardness, and femaleness with tenderness or softness. By the same token, the chained pair may be detached and used as a semiotic device to convey important decisions of the Ògbóni society to members and non-members alike. A male figure has a negative connotation, indicating that an individual has committed a serious offense and will be judged. A female figure, on the other hand, implies good news such as being appointed a chief, exonerated from false accusations, or granted special favors.