AGE: – 17th – 18th Century (assuming age from others of similar style)
CONSTRUCTION: – Bone Ivory
DESCRIPTION: – Yoruba Iroke Ifa Divination Ivory Bone Tapper
LENGTH: – 52cm
WEIGHT: – 650gms
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This Yoruba Iroke Ifa Divination Ivory Bone Tapper sourced from the Ivory Coast, is a carved wand type object used by a Babalawo (diviner) among the Yoruba people of Nigeria. The Babalawo has the special gift of divination to invoke the Yoruba god Orunmila, the god of knowledge, wisdom and god of fate, also referred to as Ifa.
Tappers are customarily made from ivory/bone, wood or metal. Although it is not uncommon for the iroke ifa to be made from ivory, it does represent the high status of the babalawo (diviner) it belongs to. In Yoruba-land Divination Tapping it is treasured for its durability and its association with the elephant which is a symbol of sovereignty and prestige to the Yoruba people.
Iroke Ifa’s commonly have three sections, a pointed end, a middle section which is usually carved in the form of a man or a woman, and the third section which can be plain or carved with a variety of patterns.
This particular Iroke Ifa shows the figure of a man with a beard seated on a small seat with both hands resting on his stomach. The centre part of the tapper is hollow which holds a seed, presumably from a tree and makes a rattling sound when tapped. The feet of the figure rests on a carved geometric band. Two decoratively carved bands separate two smooth bulbous sections a few centimeters from both ends. Two rope like sections are carved into pointed section. The mid section show cracks, doesn’t appear to have had a break.
The Babalawo starts with a gentle tapping on the divination tray as a form of greeting, and to open the channels of communication with the spirit world, after which the divination process is performed by tapping the end of the iroke ifa on the opon ifa tray, requesting the Yoruba god Orunmila to help the person who requested the divination. Advice is given according to the interpretation the Babalawo sees in the sand on the tray when tapping. Advice is sought to solve problems, whether it be for healing, financial advice, solving family feuds and a variety of other reasons.
Other ethnic and tribal objects from South East Asia