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Forged iron, 20 ½” height. Comprised of a ring mounted with 16 birds surrounding a larger central bird on a twisted shaft. The instrument of native healers (historically “witch doctors”) and priests placed at the alter or the entrance to an inflicted person’s house. The birds, always 16 in number, represent witches who nocturnally, inflict mental and physical disorders on innocent victims. The herbalists assisted by the gods Osanyin and Eyinle, contacted through the staff prepare potions to prevent or cure such disorders. Heavily used and rusted as are all of these as they are stuck in the ground outside the house during the curing ritual. The Yoruba occupy southwestern Nigeria and Benin and these staffs are related to the fine metalwork tradition of the Benin culture.