Jack Nelis Antiques

Yoruba Divination Box - Nigeria


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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: African: Pre 1960: Item # 1461544
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Ex coll. Ursula Voorhuis (1932-2021), The Netherlands. Mid 20th century. H. 21 cm, diameter 38 cm. The lid decorated with four masks, the side decorated with several carvings of figures, animals and Eshu. The Yoruba typically turn to a babalawo (diviner) when seeking advice or faced with an illness. An agere Ifa is a object that forms part of the divination ensemble. It, along with an iroke Ifa, opon Ifa, palm nuts and a number of other objects, are used to invoke the god Orunmila (also called Ifa, the god associated with wisdom, knowledge and divination) during divination processes. During the divination process, a set of 16 sacred divination palm nuts (ikin) is removed from an igede Ifa and placed in smaller divination cups (agere Ifa) where they are displayed and elevated by a variety of figures, both human and animal. The 16 sacred palm nuts (or a divination chain - opele Ifa) are shaken to reveal wisdom and communication from Orunmila. These verses (odu) are then transferred onto the dusted opon Ifa tray, translated and recited by the babalawo for the client to reflect upon and take action. When divination apparatus is not in use, they are stored various compartments within the igede Ifa, and in some regions the bowls are used in place of the agere Ifa cups.