Beaded Diviner's Necklace

Accession Number

Beaded Diviner's Necklace


Artist Nationality
Yoruba (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support
cloth, multi-colored beadwork, seeds or nuts

20 1/16 in x 17 13/16 in x 1 15/16 in (50.96 cm x 45.24 cm x 4.92 cm);1 3/4 in x 10 5/8 in x 11 1/4 in (4.45 cm x 26.99 cm x 28.58 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject matter
Beaded objects, such as this necklace, highlighted the power and authority of their owners; in Yoruba society, only aláàsè, or those who could mediate forces in orun, the realm of orisas (gods) and spirits were allowed to wear beads. Worn by diviners of Ifa, the process of divination, necklaces such as this one, called odigba Ifa, protected and empowered the diviner. The bead-covered cylinders were often made from gbekude (meaning "tie-up-Death"), a tree sacred to Orunmila, the orisa of Ifa. The two panels at each end may be pouches, which would often have powerful substances sewn into them; while the pouches or panels mark the vulnerable points of a body (the chest and the back of the neck) the they also serve to protect them. 

References Cited: 
Drewal, Henry John and John Mason. 1998. Beads Body and Soul: Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe. Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. 

Physical Description
A necklace composed of two beaded, square panels joined by a double strand of clusters of beads. The double strand joining the panels consists of beads in shades of green, blue, pink, yellow, and white. The square panels are decorated with zig-zag patterns in various colors and feature a face in the center, made of red beads. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
ceremonial costume
ceremonial objects
divination objects
symbols of office or status

1 Related Resource

PAST - Adornment Pieces from the African Collection 
(Part of: FFW Lower Level Study Cases     )

& Author Notes

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