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Eshu in Brazilian wood carvings

Eshu (known as Echú, Exu or Exú in Latin America and Esu in Nigeria) is an Orisha in the Yoruba religion of the Yoruba people (originating from Yorubaland, an area in and around present-day Nigeria). As the religion has spread around the world, the name of this Orisha has varied in different locations, but the beliefs remain similar.[1]


Name and roleEdit

Eshu partially serves as an alternate name for Eleggua, the messenger for all Orishas, and that there are 256 paths to Eleggua—each one of which is an Eshu. It is believed that Eshu is an Orisha similar to Elugga, but there are only 101 paths to Eshu according to ocha, rather than the 256 paths to Eleggua according to Ifá.[2] Eshu is known as the "Father who gave birth to Ogboni", and is also thought to be agile and always willing to rise to a challenge.[3]

Both ocha and Ifá share some paths, however. Eshu Ayé is said to work closely with Orisha Olokun and is thought to walk on the shore of the beach. Eshu Bi is a stern and forceful avatar, appearing as both an old man and young boy, who walked with Shangó and Oyá (the initial two Ibeyi), and Eshu Bi protects both of these, as well as all other small children. Eshu Laroye is an avatar believed to be the companion of Oshún and believed to be one of the most important Eshus, and the avatar of Eshu Laroye is thought to be talkative and small.[2]

Other namesEdit

The name of Eshu varies around the world: in Yorùbáland, Eshu is Èṣù-Elegba; Exu de Candomblé in Candomblé; Echú in Santería and Latin America; Legba in Haitian Vodou; Leba in Winti; Exu de Quimbanda in Quimbanda; Lubaniba in Palo Mayombe; and Exu in Latin America.[1]

In cultureEdit

Eshu is described as a "black devil-god" in the character list of Aimé Césaire's Une Tempête, and is mentioned briefly by the Master of Ceremonies in the Introduction. He appears as a bawdy trickster to foil the colonialist Prospero in Act 3, Scene 3. [4]

In Jamaican-Canadian Nalo Hopkinson's 2000 science fiction novel Midnight Robber, eshu is a name for the individual AI that runs each household in the far-future Cockpit County on the Carib-colonized planet of Toussaint.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Names and worship of Esu. Roots and Rooted. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b Ócha'ni Lele (24 June 2010). Teachings of the Santería Gods: The Spirit of the Odu. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. p. 251. ISBN 978-1-59477-908-4. 
  3. ^ Robert D. Pelton (1989). The Trickster in West Africa: A Study of Mythic Irony and Sacred Delight. University of California Press. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-520-06791-2. 
  4. ^ Aimé Césaire. Une Tempête [A Tempest]. Translated by Richard Miller.