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Divination Cup

Culture Yorùbá
Title Divination Cup (Agere Ifa)
Date Unknown
Medium Wood
Dimensions Object: 6 1/2 × 6 1/2 × 6 3/4 in. (16.5 × 16.5 × 17.1 cm)
Overall: 6 1/2 × 6 1/2 × 6 3/4 in. (16.5 × 16.5 × 17.1 cm)
Credit Line Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 77.34.4

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About this Work

This cup is part of the paraphernalia associated with Ifa divination, a Yoruba spiritual practice that enables people to communicate with spiritual forces to determine how best to live their lives. During a divination session, a priest (babalawo) manipulates sixteen sacred palm nuts, which are displayed in cups such as this when not in use. The cup, which is always supported by one or more figures, not only gathers the nuts together but also elevates them above the ground. It therefore has been likened to a shrine honoring Orunmila, also known as Ifa, the deity of wisdom, harmony, and stability, who is said to have introduced the practice of Ifa divination to humans.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

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"Divination Cup | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.