Agere Ifa (Ifa divination bowl) - 2010.45.41.1_1


Agere Ifa (Ifa divination bowl)

Maker: Unidentified Yoruba artist
Medium:Wood, iron
Geography: Nigeria
Date: Before 1967
17.6 x 19.5 cm
Object number: 2010.45.41.1
Credit Line: The Jack Lieber Collection of Yoruba Art.
On view
Gallery Location:Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific
DescriptionCarved wooden bowl with elaborate figurative base, used to contain Ifa divination nuts or divination chain. This is part of the paraphernalia used by diviners during official consultation sessions. Ifa is a system of rituals and proverbs used by the Yoruba to divine the outcome of future actions. The ritual is performed by a specialized priest, called a babalawo - father of secrets - who is consulted for advice on a variety of problems and issues: travel, marriage, illness, death, business, pregnancy, or any other concern that may trouble an individual or a community. The divination is performed through the casting of sixteen palm nuts or cowrie shells or with a divination chain. The casting of the nuts will produce results that are associated with specific signs, that are marked by the diviner on the divination tray. There are 256 possible sign combinations in Ifa divination. These correspond to 256 proverbs memorized by the babalawo, which can then be interpreted for the specific questions of each client.

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