Some Yoruba facial marks

October 16, 2012 by
Filed under: All that does not fit elsewhere 

public-article-balk

The application of facial marks (also called scarification) is an ancient tradition among many African peoples, including the Yoruba. Below you’ll find some (by no means all!) facial marks one could, and to a certain extend still can, encounter in “Yorubaland”.

Some Yoruba facial marks
More Yoruba facial marks
Here’s a text from Owonrin Meji, referring to some facial marks.

Come gather all around me now,
you divination clients for this session,
for it’s for many people here together
Owonrin speaks, as Ifa will explain.
“All tribal marks are gathered now,
some faces here have thirty carvings,
horizontally: that’s called abaja
Some others here have twenty
chevrons on their face: that’s keke,
and others still have fifty lines
that we call woro-woro, vertical.”
These were the ones who cast for Odunmbaku,
the son of Ifa, yes, Orunmila’s own son.
They told their client he must sacrifice
to avert a sudden death, to sacrifice
five bags of cowries and a five-toed chicken
to put outside, close to the road,
taken by Hawk, then lost from sight.
The sacrifice was gone, accepted.
Iku, that’s Death, came looking;
and happy Odunmbaka said: “Good heavens,
‘t was Hawk took Chicken, and your road is blocked.
This year I cannot go with you,
so next year better, Death!
I’m very sorry, but you know: that’s life!”
Death shrugged his shoulders, for whatever
we say about him: he’s an honest fellow,
who never takes what not belongs to him.
The people sang and danced
and loudly praised their Ifa,
saying: “This year we should have died,
but Iku just took Chicken,
and left us living, yet to see another year.
That’s what the Awo’s said:
“All tribal marks are gathered now,
some faces here have thirty carvings,
horizontally: that’s called abaja
Some others here have twenty
chevrons on their face: that’s keke
and others still have fifty lines
that we call woro-woro, vertical.”
These were the ones who cast for Odunmbaku,
the son of Ifa, yes, Orunmila’s own son.
All make the sacrifice, along with Odunmbaku,
a chicken to Iku, for us to live some more.

Comments

Comments are closed.