Yoruba Divination Tapper “Iroke Ifa”

A Yoruba diviner strikes a tapper against his tray to call the deity of fate, Orunmila, to the proceedings.
Tribe: Yoruba

Origin: Nigeria

Approx Age: 1950-60s

Materials: Wood, copper wire repairs

Dimensions cm: 23 tall

Ref. Number: 1605


A lovely styled Yoruba divination tapper, known as ” Iroke Ifa”. The tapered carved divination tool is used by priests, known as “Babalawo”, these instruments of the priest are mostly made from ivory, wood or cast in brass, and in rare cases decorated with pearls. Repairs can be seen in the photos of very fine copper wire.

Provenance: Ex Walter Hausler, Thurgau. Acquired in Nigeria in the 1960s.

Additional images


The Yoruba typically turn to a babalawo (diviner) when seeking advice or faced with an illness. An iroke Ifa (also called irofairo Ifairo ikeorunfaorun Ifaorunke or orun ike; meaning ‘tapper of Ifa’) is an object that forms part of the divination ensemble. It, along with an opon Ifa, agere Ifa, palm nuts and a number of other objects, are used to invoke the god Orunmila (also called Ifa, the god associated with wisdom, knowledge and divination) during divination processes.

While divination is in progress, the babalawo taps a divination tray (opon Ifa) with the pointed end of the iroke Ifa to greet and invoke Orunmila (the tapping sound is meant to attract the attention of Ifa).

For more, see the UNESCO video HERE on the Yoruba divination process and the article on Ifa divination on the Art & Life in Africa website, hosted by the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) HERE.

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