Ifa Divination: Communication Between Gods and Men in West Africa

By William Bascomb

"The sacred texts of Ifa, repository of the amassed knowledge of numerous generations of Yoruba humans, are a useful resource not just for all scholars of African oral literature and Yoruba civilization, but in addition for destiny generations attracted to the continued power of Ifa divination and a Yoruba lifestyle and thought." —Henry Drewal

This landmark examine of Ifa, crucial and complicated process of divination of the Yoruba humans of Nigeria, is still a enormous contribution to scholarship in anthropology, folklore, faith, philosophy, linguistics, and African and African-American studies.


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225-4). In a few circumstances this can replicate the consequences of acculturation on Yoruba ideals, that have replaced speedily in past times century. Even myths concerning the deities are considered as superstitious by way of Yoruba converts to Christianity and Islam, yet previously they have been concerns of religion and obviously myths by way of any definition. The early Yoruba dictionaries outline itan as "narration of outdated traditions; recording of previous occasions" 2. from time to time names of figures seem except the single to which the verse pertains, as in verse 19-1. XII. T h e D i v in a t i on V e r s e s 131 (Crowther, 1852: 164) yet provide no time period for folktales. They outline ale;> as "riddle, enigma," a which means which it keeps this day, with the folktale being exotic whilst valuable as ale;> alapagbe, touching on the refrain (egbe) of the songs that happen in such a lot of of the stories. it can be tempting to invest that during Crowther's time there have been no folktales, and that as person myths misplaced their section of trust, they have been classed with riddles as missing severe content material and intended just for young children. despite the fact that, using alg to consult folktales could be traced again at the very least 80 years (Bouche, 1885: 222 ff. ). it appears the diviners have been taught to recognize all ! fa narratives, while in different contexts nearly all of Yoruba have lengthy thought of a few of them to be a laugh fiction. The diviners are famous as figuring out extra folktales than different members, yet they won't use this data for secular reasons. In Ifli! it's a expert tabu for diviners to inform folktales (pa ale;>) for enjoyment, or perhaps to hitch in making a song the songs within the stories after they are being advised via another person. however, the truth that lots of those stories, describing the successes and screw ups of characters who do or don't sacrifice, are heard again and again from adolescence reinforces the religion within the method of divination. Conversely, the lifestyles of a bunch of experts who systematically memorize either myths and folktales, and who recite them day-by-day to outsiders as a part of their expert tasks, needs to impact the continuity and even perhaps the volume of Yoruba folklore. furthermore, the looks of folktales within the ritual context of divination offers them very important features, which pass a long way past that of easy enjoyment (Bascom, 1941, 1943, 1954). not less than 13 of the narratives within the 186 verses were released in collections of Yoruba folklore. As an trouble-free try out of this courting, 11 of the stories released by means of Frobenius (1926, 233-243, 288-292), chosen at random, have been brought up to at least one diviner in Iffi! , who matched six with verses of Ifa as follows: Frobenius Frobenius Frobenius Frobenius Frobenius Frobenius Frobenius Frobenius Frobenius Frobenius Frobenius Frobenius (233-237) (237- 238) (238-240) (241- 244) (244-246) (246-247) (247-248) (248-250) (250) (250-254) (288-289) (289- 292) story story story story story story story story story story story story 17, half A. ! fa 175-1. 17, half B. Ifa 225-4.

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