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Parent Record
No. 17
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Publication: 1885. Baudin, P. NoŽl. Fetichism and Fetich Worshipers.

Original language: English

Caption: A Human Sacrifice to Ugun, The God of War (Slave Coast)

Text: "Human sacrifices. Ugun, the terible god of war, is not satisfied with the blood of animals, but like the dreaded Elegba must be appeased with human blood. In wars and public calamities, human victims alone can satisfy the angry gods...The victim is gagged, and his head is cut off in such a way as to allow the blood to gush forth on the idol...the fetish priest opens the breast and takes out the heart, which he keeps and has dried to make talismans, and also to give courage to the combatants in war...For the evil spirits like Elegba, the body is opened, the entrails placed before the idol, and the body is suspended in front of the fetish, where it is left to putrify and fall to pieces. I have sometimes seen these bodies on the roadside, and have been obliged to go out of my way to escape the infectious odor they exhale." (pp. 86-87)

Illustrator: , eng. Reprinted by Photo Engraving Company, NY, signed LR: PhotoEngCo, NY
Illustration technique: field engraving

Publication page: frontispiece; also p.29

Publication plate/figure: plate

Related images: Image first published in 1878, then 1885: see #s 1990, 17. Cf #583.4.

• Dahomey (Country, region, place)
• Nigeria (Country, region, place)
• Republic of Benin (Country, region, place)
• carved wood (Materials and techniques)
• beheaded (Notable features)
• Ogun offering (Notable features)
• upside down (Notable features)
• entrails (Notable features)
• human sacrifice (Notable features)
• tree (Notable features)
• Elegba shrine (Object name, type)
• seated figure (Object name, type)
• vodun (Object name, type)
• Fon (Style, culture group)
• Ewe (Style, culture group)
• Yoruba (Style, culture group)

• Yoruba (Other collections)

Jim Ross, (8/19/2015): This image appears in Soul of Africa. Magical Rites and Traditions by Klaus E. Müller and Ute Ritz-Müller with photographs by Henning Christoph (1999-German ed., 2000-English ed.) 319, with the following caption: "Human sacrifice for Ogun, God of iron. From Fetichism and Fetich Worshipers, New York, 1885." Interesting section on "Cult - a stage for sacred acts." on pp316-19.

Jim Ross, (12/23/2015):    This image is discussed in African Studies Centre African Studies Collection, vol. 59 From idol to art African ‘objects with power’: a challenge for missionaries, anthropologists and museum curators  ​by Harrie Leyten (2015) in a section entitled "The missionary perspective" (pp83ff) which is part of a chapter entitled "The Precolonial Period 1850-1900." The image appears in fig 41 on p91 & fig 43 on p93. Fig 43 has the following caption: "The victim of an assumed human sacrifice to the Orisa Ogun on the Slave Coast (present-day Benin)."
   In the "Index of figures" on p298-299 in the above publication, we find the following: "Human sacrifice to Ugun, the ‘God of War’. An illustration from Baudin’s book, Ogun is the orisa of iron and is worshipped by all those who work with iron, such as blacksmiths and carvers. He is the orisa ‘to whom all other orisa bow’. Ogun is also the patron deity of hunters and warriors, those who take life to sustain it. His shrine consists of palm fronds skirting a tree (Fagg 1982: 196). The drawing shows a man who has been killed and beheaded and has been hung upside down from a tree. The severed head has been attached to the tree between his feet. Birds of prey are attacking the body of the dead man, one extracting his entrails, another tearing flesh from his bleeding throat. The white figure in the shrine probably represents orisa Ogun, the God of War."
  Leyten's publication may be seen on the Internet at