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Thunder, lightning, justice, dance, virility
Member of the orisha
Representação de Xangô MN 01.jpg
Representation of Ṣàngó, National Museum of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro
Other namesShango, Changó, Xangô, Jakuta, Siete Rayos
Venerated inYoruba religion, Dahomey mythology, Vodun, Santería, Candomblé, Haitian Vodou, Louisiana Voodoo, Folk Catholicism
Dayfourth day of the week
Colorred and white
RegionNigeria, Benin, Latin America
Ethnic groupYoruba people, Fon people

Ṣàngó (Yoruba language: Ṣàngó, also known as Changó or Xangô in Latin America; and also known as Jakuta or Badé) (from '=shan, 'to strike') is an Orisha. He is syncretized with either Saint Barbara or Saint Jerome. Historically, Shango is a royal ancestor of the Yoruba as he was the third Alafin of the Oyo Kingdom prior to his posthumous deification. Ṣàngó has numerous manifestations including Airá, Agodo, Afonja, Lubé, and Obomin.[1][2] He is considered to be one of the most powerful rulers that Yorubaland has ever produced, and is noted for his anger.

Historical figure[edit]

Jakuta was the third Alafin of Oyo, following Oranmiyan and Ajaka.[2] Jakuta brought prosperity to the Oyo Empire.[3] According to Professor Mason's Mythological Account of Heroes and Kings, unlike his peaceful brother Ajaka, Jakuta (meaning: someone who fought with stones) was a powerful and violent ruler. He reigned for seven years which were marked by his continuous campaigns and many battles. His reign ended due to his inadvertent destruction of his palace by lightning. He had three wives, namely Princess Oshun, Princess Oba, and Princess Oya. The Oyo Empire declined in the 19th century, which led to the enslavement of its people by the Fulani and the Fon. Among them were many followers of Ṣàngó, and worship of the deity thrives in the New World as a result. Strong devotion to Ṣàngó led to Yoruba religions in Trinidad and Recife, Brazil being named after the deity.[4]

In Yorubaland, Sango is worshiped on the fifth day of the week in which is named Ojo Jakuta. Ritual worship foods include guguru, bitter cola, àmàlà, and gbegiri soup. Also, he is worshiped with the Bata drum. One significant thing about this deity is that he is worshiped using red clothing, just as he is said to have admired red attire during his lifetime.[5]

Veneration of Sango[edit]


Ṣàngó is viewed as the most powerful and feared of the orisha pantheon. He casts a "thundersone" to earth, which creates thunder and lightning, to anyone who offends him.[citation needed] Worshippers in Yorubaland in Nigeria do not eat cowpea because they believe that the wrath of the god of iron would descend on them.[citation needed] The Ṣàngó god necklaces are composed in varying patterns of red and white beads; usually in groupings of four or six which are his sacred numbers. Rocks created by lightning strikes are venerated by Ṣàngó worshipers; these stones, if found, are maintained at sacred sites and used in rituals. Ṣàngó is called on during coronation ceremonies in Nigeria to the present day.[6][7][4]

The Americas[edit]

Ṣàngó is venerated in Santería and Haiti as "Chango". As in the Yoruba religion, Chango is the most feared god in Santería.[6]

In Haïti, he is from the "Nago" Nation, as Ogou. Palo recognizes him as "Siete Rayos".


Ṣàngó is known as Xangô in the Candomblé pantheon. He is said to be the son of Oranyan, and his wives include Oya, Oshun, and Oba, as in the Yoruba tradition. Xangô took on strong importance among slaves in Brazil for his qualities of strength, resistance, and aggression. He is noted as the god of lightning and thunder. He became the patron orixa of plantations and many Candomblé terreiros. In contrast Oko, the orixá of agriculture, found little favor among slaves in Brazil and has few followers in the Americas. The main barracão of Ilê Axé Iyá Nassô Oká, or the terreiro Casa Branca, is dedicated to Xangô. Xangô is depicted with an oxê, or double-sided ax similar to a labrys; a brass crown.[8][4][9]


  • Consecrated day: Tuesday
  • Colors: white and red
  • Element: fire
  • Sacred food: amalá (a stew of okra with shrimp and palm oil)
  • Instruments: oxê, a double ax; bangles; brass crown
  • Garment: red cloth with printed white squares
  • Necklace: white and red beads
  • Archetype: power, domain
  • Sacred dance: alujá, the roda de Xangô. It speaks of his achievements, deeds, consorts, power, and dominion
  • Sacrificial animals: fresh water turtle, male goat, duck, sheep[9][8][10]

Amalá, also known as amalá de Xangô, is the ritual dish offered to the orixá. It is a stew made of chopped okra, onion, dried shrimp, and palm oil. Amalá is served on Wednesday at the pegi, or altar, on a large tray, traditionally decorated with 12 upright uncooked okra. Due to ritual prohibitions, the dish may not be offered on a wooden tray or accompanied by bitter kola. Amalá de Xangô may also be prepared with the addition of beef, specifically an ox tail. Amalá de Xangô is different than àmàlà, a dish common to Yoruba areas of Nigeria.[8]

Xangô is depicted with an oxê, also known as the oxê de Xangô. The oxê is a double axe similar to a labrys and originally made of wood.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

The song "Mama Loi, Papa Loi" by Bahamian musician Exuma includes the lines "Come on Shango, Satan come to me/Let me speak what I can't see".[11][12]

Shango is also a large theme in the Mighty Sparrow song, "congo Man".

Caliban invokes Shango in Aimé Césaire's play Une Tempête (A Tempest).[13]

Shango appears as a minor character in The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.

In episode 28 of the telenovela "Celia," loosely based on the life of Celia Cruz (produced by Telemundo), the cultural ancestors of Celia's African heritage visit her in her dreams, chanting and invoking the presence of Chango.

Xango is mentioned in the song Canto de Ossanha by Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes. [14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adeoye, C. L. (1989). Ìgbàgbọ́ àti ẹ̀sìn Yorùba (in Yoruba). Ibadan: Evans Bros. Nigeria Publishers. pp. 285–302. ISBN 9781675098.
  2. ^ a b Bascom, William Russell (1980). Sixteen Cowries: Yoruba Divination from Africa to the New World. Indiana University Press. p. 44. ISBN 0-253-20847-5.
  3. ^ Lum, Kenneth Anthony (2000). Praising His Name in the Dance. Routledge. p. 231. ISBN 90-5702-610-4.
  4. ^ a b c Voeks, Robert (1997). Sacred leaves of Candomblé: African magic, medicine, and religion in Brazil. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 55. ISBN 9780292787315.
  5. ^ Johnson, History of the Yorubas, 149-152.
  6. ^ a b Murrell, Nathaniel Samuel (2010). Afro-Caribbean Religions : an Introduction to Their Historical, Cultural, and Sacred Traditions. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. pp. 32–33. ISBN 9781439900406.
  7. ^ Onifade, Olasunkanmi Adeoye (2006). ". Perception of Health educator about the effects of food taboos and fallacies on the health of Nigerians" (PDF). Educational Research and Development (JOERD): 44–50. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d Lody, Raul (2003). Dicionário de arte sacra & técnicas afro-brasileiras. Rio de Janeiro: Pallas. pp. 38, 195–197. ISBN 9788534701877.
  9. ^ a b Hargreaves, Patricia, ed. (2018). Religiões Afro: as origens, as divindades, os rituais. São Paulo: Abril. p. 28. ISBN 9788569522492.
  10. ^ Magalhães, Elyette Guimarães de (2003). Orixás da Bahia (8a ed.). Salvador, Bahia: Secretaria da Cultura e Turismo. pp. 155–156. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Césaire, Aimé (2010). A tempest. Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press.
  14. ^


  • Johnson, Samuel, History of the Yorubas, London 1921 (pp. 149–152).
  • Lange, Dierk: "Yoruba origins and the 'Lost Tribes of Israel'", Anthropos 106 (2011), 579-595.
  • Law, Robin: The Oyo Empire c. 1600 – c. 1836, Oxford 1977.
  • Seux, M.-J., Épithètes royales akkadiennes et sumériennes, Paris 1967.
  • Tishken,Joel E., Tóyìn Fálọlá, and Akíntúndéí Akínyẹmí (eds), Sàngó in Africa and the African Diaspora, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2009.

Further reading[edit]

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