The Yoruba believe that an individual’s character, behaviour and ultimate life destiny are pre-defined at birth by the individual’s head (ori). As such, an individual’s head is highly revered and respected as a distinct spiritual being. It is believed that this spiritual entity can be symbolised physically by an ibori and stored stored in an ile ori (literally translated to mean ‘house of the head’) within which it remains protected.
The owner must honour his/her head by providing offerings to the ile ori and as the owner ages and grows in wealth, he/she must continue to enhance the ile ori with additional cowrie shells and coloured glass beads.
"Upon the death of the owner the ile ori is usually dismantled and the beads and cowries are scattered on the grave of the deceased or used as currency by the surviving family".1