Skip to main content

Ceremonial Axe


Artwork Details

Ceremonial Axe
20th century
iron and wood
20 1/2 in x 10 1/4 in (52.07 cm x 26.04 cm)
Gift of Susan B. and John F. Ullrich

On Display

Not currently on display


Subject Matter:

While a double-axe was a symbol associated with the Yoruba orisa or god Shango, a single axe was associated with Ogun, the orisa of iron and war. As the protector of those that make or use iron tools and weapons, Ogun was important to both blacksmiths and warriors. A ceremonial axe such as this one could have been seen during the festival for Ogun, called Odun Ogun.  

References Cited: 
Drewal, Henry John, John Pemberton and Rowland O. Abiodun. 1989. Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought. New York: Center for African Art.  
Thompson, Robert Farris. 1983. Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy. New York: Random House.

Physical Description:

Axe with wooden handle. The bottom of the handle is cylindrical with a small disc-shaped grip at the end, while the upper portion of the handle is composed of two figures on top of one another. They face opposing directions; the lower figure appears to be holding a knife while the other figure may be holding a musical instrument to its mouth. 

Usage Rights:

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.