X92.162a,b Beaded Ile ori

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Beaded Ile ori
Cardboard, beads, thread, cloth
27 cm (10.6 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. James Strain. X92.162a,b


The ile ori interior reveals birds within, a symbol of the inner, spiritual head and destiny of a sacred ruler. A commanding bird at the top mirrors those on the crowns of rulers We are presented with two signs of the sources of authority, one brought from the other world, the other conferred through initiation and enthronement. The intersecting bands are covered in four-sided figures and dynamic patterns. Funfun (white) rectangles are framed in pupa (red), suggesting the mirrors that are sometimes set into ile ori. Concentric circles radiate outward from the inner birds, while triangles subdivide the rectangular panels around the cylindrical base, playing on the conical form above. Notice how closely this royal Ile ori form resembles the four-sided crown on some eleventh-century Ife terracottas, such as the terracottas head at the Kimbell Museum of Art, Fort Worth. Placed on ojubo (domestic altars, literally “faced of worship”), the ile ori beautifies a sanctified site, thus attracting spiritual forces.

Source: Drewal, H., Mason, J. (1998). “Beads, Body, and Soul ‚Äì Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 200