divination board

Wooden Ifa board, with a raised, carved rim depicting animals and people.

In Yoruba society the ritual of divination is performed in order to reveal the hidden forces that affect a person’s life and in order to learn how to counteract or respond to them. A person with a troubling problem goes to a divination priest Babalawo in order to have the ritual performed for him or her. The Babalawo uses a carved wooden tray as part of his divination equipment. He spreads wood dust in it and uses it to keep a tally, with finger marks, of the results achieved when he throws the sixteen palm nuts to divine Orisha Ifa’s pronouncements. Most divination trays have at least one carved image of Orisha Eshu’s face on the boarder. Eshu, the messenger god, is the companion of Ifa and oversees the ritual of divination. It is also he who will convey the appropriate sacrifices to the gods that are prescribed through the ritual.

Collection Information

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