Three figures as a support for a round top. PL figure is holding drum, center figure is on a horse and PR is female with a child on her back. Figures on irregularly shaped base.

Divination tray, mid 20th century

expand_more

Woodexpand_more

The William Hood Dunwoody Fundexpand_more  92.1

Who doesn’t need help now and then deciding which way to go in life' The Yoruba people developed a complex system of divination (foretelling), called ifa, which relies on an extensive and constantly growing body of chanted texts. To determine which of the hundreds of verses are relevant to the case at hand, the diviner performs ifa using several instruments: a tapper to summon Orunmila, the divinity of wisdom, knowledge, and divination; a carved tray to be covered with a layer of dust in which signs are drawn; and, most importantly, a set of 16 sacred palm nuts (not shown here) used by the diviner to obtain numbers marked on the tray. Combinations of these numbers lead the diviner to a particular set of verses.

Explore

Audio

Crane Head Ladle, Lakota (#565)
Details
Title
Divination tray
Role
Artist
Accession Number
92.1
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

In consideration of the health and safety of visitors, volunteers, and staff, Mia is temporarily closed to the public. Learn more here.

Three figures as a support for a round top. PL figure is holding drum, center figure is on a horse and PR is female with a child on her back. Figures on irregularly shaped base.