Babalawo Cosme Guio (Ibae), Ifa divination tray (tablero de Ifa in Spanish ; opon-Ifa in Lucumi), lath-turned wood, hand-incised surface designs, and gold leaf paint, 15 3/4" diameter by 1," Havana, 1996. The Ifa divination tray is utilized for the highest form if Ifa divination ( el bajon de orula ) by babalawos, who work with the authorization of the orisha called Orula (Orunmila). Orula is considered to be a fair ( justiciero ) judge capable of settling disputes among the orichas and other spiritual forces. The tray's surface is dusted with yefa (aka ache de orula ). The babalawo manipulates 16 palm nut kernels multiple times, the result of which produce an octogram of single or double marks made with the middle- and forefinger in the yefa. This "sign" ( letra or odu), is interpretated by at least three babalawos. The tray may also be used by on a daily basis to perform ebo del tablero --cleansing sacrifices and "works" for protective, and sometimes offensive, purposes. The four cardinal points of the tray orient the reading cosmologically, and draw into the session an array of spiritual forces (life, death, spiritual, material, God, orisha, egun , etc). Yoruba trays, as do many Cuban Lucumi trays, often feature up to four low relief figures of the universal messenger, Elegba, one at each of the four cardinal points. More commonly, as in this one, a crossroads figure, signifying the "head" of the tray, marks the north (associated here with the odu Iwori = "air"/the "spiritual"), a skull to the south (Odi = "earth"/the "material"/"rebirth"), a sun to the east (Eyiogbe, life), and a crescent moon to the west (Oyekun, death).
Information on Elegba and the Orishas

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