Yoruba / Ifa Divination Board / 20th centuryYoruba
Ifa Divination Board
20th century

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Creator Nationality: African; West African; Nigerian; Yoruba
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Name-CRT: Yoruba
Title: Ifa Divination Board
View: front
Creation Start Date: 1900
Creation End Date: 1999
Creation Date: 20th century
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: wood
Dimensions: H.9 x W.10-1/2 x L.10 in.
AMICA Contributor: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Owner Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
ID Number: 92.1
Credit Line: The William Hood Dunwoody Fund
Rights: http://www.artsmia.org/restrictions.html

Yoruba Ifa diviners use specially carved boards as their model of the cosmos. The diviner spreads a thin layer of sand or powder on the board, divides it into quadrants representing the realms of the universe, and then tosses 16 kola nuts across the surface. Where and how they land provides his starting point for interpreting and predicting events in the larger world through a huge verbal library of chanted poetry.

Most Yoruba divination boards show the face of the deity Eshu at the top, as this one does, but boards held up by figures are rare. On this example a horseman is flanked by a drum player and a mother and child, indications of the status of the rider. Eshu is one of many gods honored by the Yoruba. Eshu has many roles and powers. He conveys people's sacrifices to the gods and spirits and can ease a person's way through life. howerver, Eshu is also a trickster and can reverse people's fortunes. He guards the ritual way but is unpredictable.

Component Measured: overall
Measurement Unit: in
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: ?The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

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