Figurated Shrine Post from the Agbeni Shango Shrine



Agesingbenon, Nigerian, Nigerian


Figurated Shrine Post from the Agbeni Shango Shrine


Architectural element, effigy, sculpture




West Africa, Nigeria, Ibadan


Wood, pigment
60 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (153.7 x 16.5 cm)

Object Number



This post, along with 15 other similarly carved posts, once formed a screen and roof support in front of the Agbeni Shango Shrine in Ibadan, Nigeria. The purpose of this screen, besides literally holding up the roof of the building, was to signal the sacred nature of the space within and the identity of the orisha or god residing there. This particular post, likely commissioned by the Irugberi clan as a gift to the shrine, depicts devotees and protectors of the shrine: a female figure surmounted by a male figure holding a gun and spear. The instruments of war held by the male figure relate to Shango, putative king of the Oyo kingdom deified as the Yoruba orisha of thunder.

Photographs of the shrine taken since 1910, when it was first documented by the famous German collector and scholar Leo Frobenius, reveal that each year the carvings were washed and repainted by women in preparation for the annual Shango festival. The deep lustrous patina achieved from repeated washes of indigo offsets the more ephemeral but striking spotted decorations of the post, which first appear in photographs taken in 1961. The white spots may signal a plea to Shango for protection from smallpox.

Credit Line

Ex coll. William S. Arnett


MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, 2008 - December 1, 2014


© Michael C. Carlos, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White 2010.
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On View



Agesingbenon, Nigerian, Nigerian, “Figurated Shrine Post from the Agbeni Shango Shrine,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed February 22, 2020,

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