Ukhurhe (Rattle Staff)Early 20th century - mid 20th century
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)
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 AHDRC.eu)
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 period and style that developed from the unification of Japan in 1600 until the end of the shogunal dynasty in 1868. During this period, economic expansion encouraged the rise of an educated merchant class who created their own forms of literature and theater as well as new schools of painting and woodblock printing. A wide diversity of pictorial subjects and styles developed during this period and many 19th century Western artists were influenced by them.
- 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.
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
- African Art in the Greater Philadelphia Area The Community College of Philadelphia with a Grant from the William Penn Foundation , Nov 12, 1999 – Dec 17, 1999
Owner Name: Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953
Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US
Ownership End Date: 7/18/1991
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
- "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0181682.
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
- "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0089338.
- "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0089342.
- Stefan Eisenhofer, ed. Kulte, Künstler, Könige in Afrika: Tradition und Moderne in Südnigeria (Linz, Austria: des Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseums, 1977), 125.
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
- "The Met Online Collections Database." The Met Collection. (Accessed April 9, 2020): The Metropolitan Museum of Art, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/. Accession No.: 1974.5.
- "ÌMỌ̀ DÁRA." (Accessed May 10, 2020): Imodara.com. https://www.imodara.com/discover/nigeria-edo-ukhurhe-rattle-staff/.
This object is a member of the following portfolios:
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