Ifa Divination

by John Pemberton III
Professor Emeritus, Amherst College

Ila-Orangun, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria, August 1982. Photo by John Pemberton III.

Following the rites of ifa idagba, ifa priests are led from the palace to the Oloriawo's house by a youth carrying on his head the opon igebe (ifa bowl) and opon ifa (divination board) covered with a red cloth. Behind him a priest carries the staff of ifa, opa orere. The iron staff is surmounted by oyele ifa (the image of a bird) and has clusters of conical shaped bells covered by shredded raffia, which give forth a muted sound as the priest strikes the staff upon the ground.