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Ukhurhe (Rattle Staff)

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unknown Edo

Ukhurhe (Rattle Staff)

Early 20th century - mid 20th century
Carved wood

29 3/4 in. x 3 1/2 in. x 3 1/2 in. (75.57 cm x 8.89 cm x 8.89 cm)
Gift of Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.5.69
Other Number(s): 84-17 (Neufeld Collection Number)
Geography: Africa, Nigeria, Southern Nigeria
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Ritual Objects
Culture/Nationality: Edo, Nigerian, West African, African
Collection: Neufeld Collection
In the Benin kingdom of southern Nigeria, rattle staffs, or ukhurhe, are an essential feature of Benin ancestral altars, used by the Ekpo men’s society; whether for kings, chiefs, or commoners. Ukhurhe rattle staffs are created by the ruling Oba after the passing of his father. They are also created, out of wood, for deceased community members. The altar on which the staffs are placed on serve as a shrine and a point of communication with the deceased. These staffs have a hollow rattle chamber near the summit, they are shaken while uttering prayers at the altars to attract the attention of the ancestors and also used in ceremonial dances honoring ancestors, representations of which incorporated into the column of the staff interspersed with fine relief carving. Once the ancestors’ attention has been aroused, the surviving family members make prayer requests. The ancestor is also respected through offerings made to the shrine (the ukhurhe staff is stuck in the ground to indicate that an offering has been made). (Metropolitan, Sotheby’s, Imo Dara and

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