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Iya Osun's birthday

Dancing away at Iya Osun's birthday
Dancing away at Iya Osun's birthday

Green, yellow, beige were the official colours of Iya Osun’s birthday celebrations at the Oba’s palace. Green oval patterns, that reminded of the skeleton of a sphere, were printed on the cloth that was used for dresses and the hair gear, the gele. As we entered the Oba’s compound, a hundred meters away from the junction of Osogbo’s central mosque, talking drums were happily providing a swinging call for dances and occasionally a welcome call to newcomers, that could involve the spelling out of the guests' names, in the hope that money would be sprayed on the drummers: blessings are always meant to be rewarded.
The celebration took place in the lower courtyard of the palace, next to the red walls of a shrine decorated with white, black and orange designs.
the colourful shrine at the palace of the Oba of Osogbo
the colourful shrine at the palace of the Oba of Osogbo
As usual, marquees had been erected, in a corner, for people to seat and have food and drinks while the celebration was going on. Indeed, celebrations are a time to get together, a manifestation of the social link between attendees, which can take several forms. The men would drink among their peers, women would dance in groups, men would occasionally dance too, kids would play around and occasionally partake in grown-ups’ activity, they would look after their siblings, etc…
The party had probably been called for 2pm and at 5pm it was just about to start. Iya Osun’s group of women were about to start dancing and singing in one of the rooms of the shrine. As usual here, some women would carry their baby on their back wrapped in a cloth matching their outfit. The babies would then sleep undeterred while the mother would be having fun and dance the afternoon away. One of the prerequisite to enter the shrine is to go barefoot. Shoes are left at the entrance. Anyway, flip-flops are never difficult to get rid-off.
Two men were kneeling in front of a priest, dressed in the cloth of the day, who wore a red and white bead necklace to mark his fellowship with Esu (a divinity, or Orisha, which was associated with the devil by Christian missionaries, and which is said to manage the entrance doors of birth and death and also and be linked with uncertainty. He is also known to the father of the Ogbonis, the herbalists). The priest wore as well a bead bracelet to the colors of Ifa (divination). He sat on a chair next to the shrine while the two men were looking at something on the ground. Not sure what.
the Buseyin shrine dedicated to Osun
the Buseyin shrine dedicated to Osun
We had met another priestess of Osun at the Buseyin shrine, whose particularity is that it is nest on the banks of the Osun river but outside of the sacred grove. The shrine is a rectangular enclosure whose mud wall is adorned with concrete haut-reliefs representing mythological figures. The wall covered by a corrugated iron roof jutting out on both sides of it and supported by pillars of mud thus forming an inner and outer gallery. Additionally, two entrances are magnified by A-shaped roof structures pointing towards the sky like an Asian hat and supported by carved wooden poles made by either Rabiu or Casali, two wood carvers that are part of the New Sacred Art movement.

Inside the shrine some plants are growing along some mud and concrete carvings, representing human-shaped divinities, which is giving a lively air to the courtyard.
inside the Buseyin courtyard
inside the Buseyin courtyard


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