Ifa divination tray (opon Ifa)

Yoruba peoples
20th–mid 20th century
more object details

General Description

A diviner (babalawo) used this divination tray (opon Ifa) with the tapper (iroke Ifa, 1978.40) to facilitate communication with Orunmila, a deity through whom the Creator God speaks; however it is Eshu, the divine messenger who can cause uncertainty and misfortune in the world, who is portrayed on the tray. In three of the four cardinal points, his head is rendered with small hornlike forms to symbolize his generative powers. In the fourth, he is shown wearing a distinctive long-tail hairstyle and brandishing a club. In addition to images of Eshu, the artist carved a complex program of symbolic scenes that refer to Yoruba royalty, ritual, and traditional life.

Adapted from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.