Olumeye (Offering Bowl)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


Found predominantly in the towns of Ekiti and Igbomina, kneeling female figure bowls known as olumeye (meaning 'one who brings/knows honour and respect') are used by chiefs and kings (Oba) to present kola nut (obi) offerings to guests. They are also sometimes used as containers of offerings to Yoruba deities, gods and Orishas and also used in the place of agere ifa bowls, to hold palm nuts used in the Ifa divination process.

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

    • Carved from a single piece of wood
    • Kneeling nude female figure (very rare figures carved standing)
        • Three Vertical tribal marks on each cheek
        • Hair usually in the high, flat style of 'irun agogo' (indicating the figure is a recent bride or married to an Orisha)
        • Long thin neck
        • Full pointed breasts
        • Protective amulet (tirah) carved above the breasts and sometimes also on the back
        • Usually carved with beads around waist (indicating that she is a virgin)
        • Toes usually carved pointing back
    • Figure holding the sides of a bowl with both hands
        • Bowl carved in the form of a cock
        • Detachable lid in the form of cock head and wings
        • Bottom bowl carved with cock’s feet
    • Patterns incised on the bowl and body of female figure

Share this