Apo Ifa (Divination Bag)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


The Yoruba typically turn to a babalawo (diviner) when seeking advice or faced with an illness. The bag for Ifa (apo ifa) is used by babalawos to carry their set of sixteen kola nuts (ikin), divining chains (opele) and other ritual accessories. The collection of these items, including the diviner’s bag, are called abira.

Beaded objects are usually reserved for royalty in Yorubaland, but the importance of babalawos in communicating with Orishas is underpinned by the possession of beaded items such as the apo ifa.

For more, see the UNESCO video HERE on the Yoruba divination process and the article on Ifa divination on the Art & Life in Africa website, hosted by the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) HERE.

Distinguishing Features

    • Made of woven cotton cloth or leather
    • Height = 9 inches
    • Width = 8 - 15 inches
    • Full-sized flap
        • Flap may be decorated with cowrie shells or imported European beads
        • Flap usually features a beaded face (referring to Orunmila, also called Ifa, the god associated with wisdom, knowledge and divination)

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