The Shango shrine of the Timi of Ede, Ede, Nigeria.
A carving in a Shango shrine is not worshipped. Shango himself is practically never represented. The carvings are mostly identified as the gods’ wives, priests, followers and initiates. In the case of the Ede shrine the original identity of the twenty-four figures has been lost and they are now vaguely described by the aged priestess as people killed by lightening.
The purpose of the carvings is difficult to define. They are more than mere decoration. They are intended to create an atmosphere, a feeling of heightened reality which is conductive to worship. The purpose of worshipping Shango is not to become a perfect human being but to live a fuller, intensified live.
During his trip to Nigeria, Elisofon visited Ede, one of oldest towns of Yoruba people; founded by Timi Agbale to establish a settlement to protect the Oyo caravan route to Benin. This photograph was taken when Eliot Elisofon traveled to Africa from March 17, 1970 to July 17, 1970.