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Divination board  (opon Ifa)
Date: Late 19th-early 20th century
Medium: Wood
Dimensions: H x W x D: 36 x 38 x 2 cm (14 3/16 x 14 15/16 x 13/16 in.)
Credit Line: Gift of Walt Disney World Co., a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company
Geography: Owo, Nigeria
Object Number: 2005-6-69
Search Terms:
mudfish
crab
bird
male
snake
Male use
Divination
Exhibited: Visionary: Viewpoints on Africa's Arts

For serious problems, the Yoruba go to an ifa diviner to consult Orunmila, the god of fate. A numerical pattern is obtained and recorded on the divination board. The diviner then recites the verses related to the numerical pattern.. The board's low relief images can refer to deities, sacrificial animals or client problems. The face on the board represents Eshu, the messenger of the gods and a force of chance and change. The figures smoking a pipe probably also represent Eshu. The birds biting snakes suggest cosmic battles and sacrifices, as do the rams' heads with mudfish tendrils. The two curving mudfish and the crab are creatures capable of moving in two realms. The heads with the triangular crowns resemble mudfish and are images of kingship, beings of two worlds.

Wood circular board with a raised edge composed of a relief of a central face flanked by human figures and animals. The raised edge is segmented into small panels with the figures within.

Visionary: Viewpoints on Africa's Arts, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 4, 2017-ongoing



African Cosmos: Stellar Arts, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 20-December 9, 2012; Newark Museum, February 26-August 11, 2013; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, August 23-November 30, 2014; Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, Atlanta, January 31-June 21, 2015



African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., February 15, 2007-March 31, 2009



For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1981



Sculpture of Black Africa: The Paul Tishman Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October 16, 1968-January 5, 1969; The High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, August 31-November 1, 1970; University of Texas College of Fine Arts, Austin; City Art Museum, St. Louis, August 20-October 17, 1971; Des Moines Art Center; Huntington Galleries, Huntington, WV



Masterpieces of African Art: Tishman Collection, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1967



Arts connus et arts méconnus de l'Afrique noire, Collection Paul Tishman, Musee de l'Homme, Paris, 1966


Arts connus et arts méconnus de l'Afrique noire, Collection Paul Tishman. 1966. Paris: Musee de l'Homme, no. 62.



Balandier, Georges and Jacques Maquet (eds). 1968. Dictionnaire des Civilisations Africaines. Paris: Fernand Hazan, p. 133.



Jenke, Veronika. 2007. Explore! African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection. Exhibition booklet. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, pp. 13-14, 20.



Kreamer, Christine Mullen. 2012. African Cosmos: Stellar Arts. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution; New York: Monacelli Press, p. 227, no. 12.9.



Kreamer, Christine Mullen, Bryna Freyer and Andrea Nicolls. 2007. African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, pp. 204-205, no. 71.



Lawal, Babatunde. 2012. Visions of Africa: Yoruba. Milan: 5 Continents Editions, pp. 98, 133, no. 31.



Muze'on Yisra'el. 1967. Masterpieces of African Art: Tishman Collection. Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, no. 110.



Sieber, Roy and Arnold Rubin. 1968. Sculpture of Black Africa: The Paul Tishman Collection. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, p. 82, no. 86.



Visoná, Monica Blackmun, Robin Poyner, Herbert M. Cole and Michael D. Harris. 2001. A History of Art in Africa. New York: Harry N. Abrams, p. 246, no. 8-26.



Visoná, Monica Blackmun, Robin Poyner and Herbert M. Cole. 2008. A History of Art in Africa. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, p. 244, no. 8-24.



Vogel, Susan (ed). 1981. For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 94-95, no. 48.


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