This wood carving depicts Shango, the Yoruba god of thunder and lighting.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of the Hamill Gallery of African Art, Boston, MA
Shango, Yoruba God of Thunder and Lightning
Shango was the king of the Oyo kingdom in West Africa. This was where the Yoruba people lived from about 1400 until 1835. Today, there are about 30 million Yoruba people in West Africa, most in Nigeria.
Shango was a powerful king, but some of the people thought Shango was unfair. Shango fled into the forest when is enemies forced him to give up the royal throne. He wandered in the forest for a long time and eventually killed himself.
After Shango died, his enemies' homes were set on fire. Probably it was Shango's friends that did this, but some people believed Shango had gone up into the heavens and was sending fire down to Earth. That’s how Shango became known as the god of thunder and lightning.
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