X90.693 Divining Chain

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Divining Chain
Nigeria
Yoruba peoples
Ivory and bronze
c. 19th century
106.5 cm (41.9 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. The Jerome L. Joss Collection. X90.693

Category:

Ifa diviners use the divining chain to obtain the number combinations that identify divination verse (odu Ifa) more quickly than with the sixteen palm nuts (ikin Ifa). Source: Ross, D. H. (Ed.) (1994). “Visions of Africa: The Jerome L. Joss Collection of African Art at UCLA”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 73 Ifa diviners use the divining chain (opele Ifa) to obtain the number combinations/signatures of the odu Ifa verses more quickly. Holding the chain at the center between the two rows of opele seeds (here represented by convex, carved ivory faces), the diviner gently tosses the ends toward himself, allowing the eight elements to land either face up or face down. He then counts these to determine which odu has come to speak.

Source: Drewal, H., Mason, J. (1998). “Beads, Body, and Soul – Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 21

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