Sixteen Cowries: Yoruba Divination from Africa to the New World

Sixteen Cowries: Yoruba Divination from Africa to the New World

Sixteen Cowries: Yoruba Divination from Africa to the New World

Sixteen Cowries: Yoruba Divination from Africa to the New World

Synopsis

Yoruba texts and English translations of a divination system that originated in Nigeria and is widely practiced today by male and female diviners in the diaspora. A landmark edition

Excerpt

Divination with sixteen cowries is related in mythology, perhaps historically, and certainly morphologically, to Ifa divination. For a full understanding of what is reported here, readers should consult Ifa Divination: Communication Between Gods and Men in West Africa (Bascom 1969), and the references to this work are made to enable them to find the relevant passages more readily.

My acknowledgments to colonial officials and Nigerians in this and other earlier works still stand, and I am grateful to the Social Science Research Council of New York for supporting my first fieldwork among the Yoruba in 1937–38. But the principal support for the research for this book was provided by a Fulbright grant in 1950–51 when the divination verses of sixteen cowries were tape recorded. Grants from the University of California’s Institute of International Studies in 1960 and the Social Science Research Council in 1965 made possible briefer visits to Nigeria for further research.

My acknowledgments to M.O. Oyawoye, who did the initial translation and most of the transcription, to the two other Yoruba men who helped in transcribing, and to my wife, Berta, who did the recording, are expressed in Chapter I. There also, and in the dedication of this book, I express my great indebtedness to SalakU0327o, the diviner who dictated the divination verses of sixteen cowries which are presented here.

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