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Elegba’s symbol in Cuba is the "garabato", a hooked staff used as a tool in field work, especially when cutting sugar cane. It is a simple branch of a Guayaba tree, turned upside down – the first metaphor for Elegba. Its shape reminds strongly on the Nigerian Eshu carvings, where Eshu’s head always has a phallic extension on the back. This might be the reason why in the Cuban diaspora the Yoruba made use of the garabato.

Typically you would hold this instrument in one hand and use the hook for merging e.g. a bundle of sugarcane together, to cut it with the machete in your other hand. In this sense, Elegba opens up the way through the dense areas, where you can not see through, and works together with another warrior, Ogun, who follows and clears the road. So the garabato literally is the tool for opening up the way and to grab all the things around you and thus became the main symbol for Elegba in Cuban Orisha dance and worship. 

Elegba is also "Oba Orita", king of the crossroads, and his colors are red and black. The two garabato are crossed in this sense. This image is for all the olorisha out there, as we know, nothing works without Elegba’s vital force!


Order "Garabato" in the shop close to you!