PRINT Summer 1990


One - and - Hump

ESHU-ELEGBA, the Nigerian Yoruba trickster god extraordinaire, entered the world with a calabash full of stones. Immediately he visited the houses of the rich, saying, Come to the crossroads and leave money there so the poor can get something to eat.

Those who ignored him watched their houses strangely burn, for the stones in Eshu’s calabash caused combustion wherever they fell. Those who were generous were saved. From their monies—in those days handsome cowrie shells served as currency—the poor were rescued and markets began. Henceforth Eshu strung spoons sometimes upon his dress, as emblems of giving, or strands of white cowries, made up of sacrificial offerings at the crossroads.1

The Atlantic trade brought Eshu’s moral sanction to certain cities of the Americas, particularly Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. Under creole pressure, Eshu became Exu in Rio, further transformed into Zé Pilintra,

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