Yoruba Artist, Nigeria
11 1/4 x 9 x 9 inches
Gift of Bernard and Patricia Wagner
Currently Not on View
Yoruba beliefs regarding the “inner head” play an important role in the arts related to deities or òrìsà. An altar serves as the “face of the spirit,” representing the outer head of a deity and concealing its inner head. The inner head is represented on altars by natural objects or nonfigurative signifiers empowered with rituals and charms. Vessels like such as this one are used to conceal these objects that represent the inner head of a deity. The face on the vessel provides an insight into why the Yoruba call an altar “the face of the spirit.” It stresses the humanity within the spirit’s divinity, as well as the popular belief that, like mortals, every òrìsà has a head empowered by Olódùmarè, the ultimate source.