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Image of Ukhurhe (Rattle Staff)

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unknown Edo

Ukhurhe (Rattle Staff)

Early 20th century - mid 20th century
Carved and incised wood

42 3/4 in. x 7 in. (circumference) (108.59 cm x 17.78 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.6.21
Other Number(s): P19 (Plass Number)
Geography: Africa, Nigeria
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Ritual Objects
Culture/Nationality: Edo, Nigerian, West African, African
Collection: Plass Collection
Description: 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

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:
  • African - Refers to the cultures of the continent of Africa, which is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • carvings - Refers to works executed by cutting a figure or design out of a solid material such as stone or wood. It typically refers to works that are relatively small in size, are part of a larger work, or are not considered art. For large and medium-sized three-dimensional works of art, use the broader term "sculpture" or another appropriate term.
  • Edo - Refers to the style and culture of Edo-speaking peoples living in Nigeria's Bendel state outside Benin City. While their languages are related, they are not all mutually intelligible. The Edo, however, all trace their origins to the Kingdom of Benin. Their ancestors migrated from Benin in a series of waves between the 9th and 18th centuries. These migrants intermixed with indigenous peoples and other settlers from neighboring areas, thus the arts of these peoples reflect a complex history of migration and cultural borrowing.
  • Nigerian
  • rattles - Shaken idiophones made in a variety of forms worldwide, in which one or more objects strike against each other or against the inside or outside of another object.
  • ritual objects - Objects used for a particular ritual activity, often as part of a ceremony.
  • staffs - Long sticks carried in the hand for support in walking.
  • West African - Styles and cultures from the region comprising the westernmost area of the African continent, defined by the United Nations as including the modern nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
  • wood - The principal tissue of trees and other plants that provides both strength and a means of conducting nutrients. Wood is one of the most versatile materials known.

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Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
  • African Art from the Collection of Margaret Feurer Plass '17 Bryn Mawr College , May 19, 1990 – Oct 1, 1992

Bibliography List
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): Record No.: 0181681.
  • Frisk & Borodin Appraisers, Inventory and Appraisement Belonging to the Estate of Margaret Barton Plass, Deceased. 7 March 1990 Bryn Mawr College Special Collections. Bryn Mawr, PA, 1990
    Page Number: 2, Figure Number: 19

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): Record No.: 0089342.
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): Record No.: 0089338.
  • Stefan Eisenhofer, ed. Kulte, Künstler, Könige in Afrika: Tradition und Moderne in Südnigeria (Linz, Austria: des Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseums, 1977), 125.

Related Bibliography List
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
  • "ÌMỌ̀ DÁRA." (Accessed May 10, 2020):
  • "The Met Online Collections Database." The Met Collection. (Accessed April 9, 2020): The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession No.: 1974.5.

Portfolio List Click a portfolio name to view all the objects in that portfolio
This object is a member of the following portfolios:

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Ukhurhe (Rattle Staff) |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=5/29/2023 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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