Peoples & Societies


One of the largest ethnic groups in Africa, now numbering approximately twenty-five million, the Yoruba, comprised of several different groups that speak the Yoruba language, trace their origins to the city of Ife in present-day Nigeria, where according to their story of the Creation, the world began. Today, most Yoruba people are farmers who live in Nigeria and the neighboring areas of the Republic of Benin and Togo.

The Yoruba believe in an extensive pantheon of deities, deified kings, ancestors, and nature spirits. They create masks, divination trays, and brass and terracotta sculptures, which are frequently dedicated to the spirits and ancestors. Besides sculptural works and masks, the Yoruba make a variety of beaded objects and woven textiles.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 305.

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