Ifá Divination, Knowledge, Power, and Performance

Ifá Divination, Knowledge, Power, and Performance

Jacob K. Olupona and Rowland O. Abiodun
Distribution: World
Publication date: 02/29/2016
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-01882-3
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This landmark volume compiled by Jacob K. Olupona and Rowland O. Abiodun brings readers into the diverse world of Ifá—its discourse, ways of thinking, and artistic expression as manifested throughout the Afro-Atlantic. Firmly rooting Ifá within African religious traditions, the essays consider Ifá and Ifá divination from the perspectives of philosophy, performance studies, and cultural studies. They also examine the sacred context, verbal art, and the interpretation of Ifá texts and philosophy. With essays from the most respected scholars in the field, the book makes a substantial contribution toward understanding Ifá and its role in contemporary Yoruba and diaspora cultures.

Author Bio

Jacob K. Olupona is Professor of African Religious Traditions at Harvard Divinity School and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. He is author of City of 201 Gods: Ile-Ife in Time, Space, and the Imagination and editor of Orisa Devotion as World Religion: The Globalization of Yoruba Religious Culture.

Rowland O. Abiodun is John C. Newton Professor of Art, the History of Art, and Black Studies at Amherst College. He is author of Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art and What Follows Six is More than Seven: Understanding African Art.


“Will add substantially to our knowledge of one of the world's most extraordinary bodies of texts and ritual practices.”
 — John Picton, University of London

“Edited by two distinguished exponents of African religions, this is a formidable book that will stand the test of time by all conventional standards of evaluation given its cogency, in-depth research methodologies, variety of sophisticated interdisciplinary approaches, and scholarly interrogations.”
 — Niyi Afolabi, University of Texas at Austin

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Table of Contents

Foreword / His Royal Highness Oba Okunade Sijuade Olubuse II
Preface / Jacob K. Olupona and Rowland O. Abiodun
Introduction / Jacob K. Olupona and Rowland O. Abiodun with Niyi Afolabi
Part I. Ifá Orature: Its Interpretation and Translation
1. Ayajo as Ifá in Mythical and Sacred Contexts / Ayo Opefeyitimi
2. Continuity and Change in the Verbal, Artistic, Ritualistic, and Performance Traditions of Ifá Divination / Wándé Abímbólá
3. Recasting Ifá: Historicity and Recursive Recollection in Ifá Divination Texts / Andrew Apter
4. Ifá, Knowledge, Performance, the Sacred, and the Medium / Olasope O. Oyelaran
5. "Writing" and "Reference" in Ifá / AdeìleìkeÌ AdeìeÌòkoòì
Part II. Ifá as Knowledge: Theoretical Questions and Concerns
6. Ifá: Sixteen Odù, Sixteen Questions / Barry Hallen
7. Kín N'Ifá Wí?: Philosophical Issues in Ifá Divination / Olúfeìòmi Táíwò
8. Diviner as Explorer: The Afuwape Paradigm / Rowland O. Abiodun
9. "The Hunter Thinks the Monkey Is Not Wise. The Monkey Is Wise, But Has Its Own Logic": Multiple Divination Systems and Multiple Knowledge Systems in Yorùbá Religious Life / Mei-Mei Sanford
10. Dagbon, Oyo, Kongo: Critical and Comparative Reflections on Sacrifice / Wyatt MacGaffey
11. Ifá: The Quintessential Builder of Our Bank of Images / Akínwùmí Ìsola
12. Odù Imole: Islamic Tradition in Ifá and the Yorùbá Religious Imagination / Jacob K. Olupona
Part III. Ifá in the Afro-Atlantic
13. Ifá Divination as Sacred Compass for Reading Self and World / Velma Love
14. Ìtan Odù Òní: Tales of Strivers Today / John Mason
15. Orunmila's Faithful Dog: Transmitting Sacred Knowledge in a Lucumí Orisha Tradition / Joseph M. Murphy
16. Mofá and the Oba: Translation of Ifá Epistemology in the Afro-Cuban Dilogún / Ysamur M. Flores-Peña
17. The Pai-de-santo and the Babaláwo: Religious Interaction and Ritual Rearrangements within Orisha Religion / Stefania Capone
18. The Role of Women in the Ifá Priestho