Opon Ifa

Exploring the Opon Ifa

The Opon Ifa is the great divining tray used in Ifa divination and is also used in the preparation of sacred medicines. Opons vary in size and decoration, but are generally carved from wood and are decorated with the sacred symbols of the Ifa cosmology. In this article I share my understanding of the Opon Ifa, its characteristics, use, and its significance.

A characteristic symbol of the Opon is the Head of Esu that decorates the top quadrant of the tray. Some trays have one, two or even four Esu faces carved around their rim. The border of the tray is usually carved with anthropomorphic figures, each with a special purpose and meaning. The Babalawo makes use of the Opon Ifa when performing divination with the I kin.

More important than the physical design of the tray, is what the tray metaphysically represents. The Opon signifies the Universe as we know it, both micro and macro cosmically. It is divided into four quadrants and each quadrant represents certain aspects of life itself.

By understanding the nature of the Opon and its components, you can further discover which area of life are being impacted by the Odu revealed.”

The meaning of each of the quadrants are detailed in the article “An Exposition of the Sacred Texts of Ifa

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  1. I’m trying to find some more information on the design an meaning of the Opon, itself.
    I was told that there are 16 different types of Opon and each one serves a different purpose as different types of medicine are made on each one.
    Would you have any information in that regards or know where I could get some more specifics on Opon’s themselves?

    1. Alaafia;

      Thank you for your visit and comments.

      The “Awo” (mysteries / secrets) of the Opon are numerous, and many which are heard of are extrapolations of simpler truths. Unfortunately, as information is passed from one person to another essential meaning tends to be morphed into the reality and needs of the current recipient. So you are well advised to continued your research, and while doing so keep in mind that the best source of information is the root of the source. I would give you two good sources of research material you can start with; “IFA An Exposition of Ifá Literary Corpus” by Wande Abimbola, and “IFA Divination”, by William Bascom.

      O Dabo
      Awodele Ifayemi

  2. Alaafia,

    Yes, this is something I plan on delving into, heavily, upon my 1st trip to Nigeria as I am in full agreement in regards to grasping this subject at its source.
    I’m thankful for the text you’ve recommended , I’ll check them out and see what I can draw up from them.

    O Dabo,


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