When Olódumaré created the divinities, Obàtálá was designated to represent him on earth with the authority above the other divinities. He is the head in the Divine Council. There is a myth that says that the council is made on Ojó Àbáméta (Saturday) the day of the three resolutions. Some say that Obàtálá’s mother was born in Ifon where she was known as Olofun and the tradition says that Obàtálá’s home is in Igbo.

Yorubas think of Obàtálá as an older, with a venerable aspect whose greatness is combined with a generous splendour that is also sacred and represents authority. He is the only deity whom Esú was not able to influence on and he is noticeable by his pureness, he lives in a white place and he dresses with a white tunica. That’s the reason for why people say the following about him:

Greatest in white tunicas
He sleeps in white clothes
He awakes in white clothes
Venerable father Yemòwó’s consort
Òrìsà delights me when in ceremony,
in a wonderful place where Òrìsà is placed on a throne.

Obàtálá is the king of the white light, and common known as the king of the white clothes. He is considered as the keeper of the good character and he is also known as Òrìsà-Nlá.

The name Obàtálá means Obà-ti-ó-nla (The great king) or Obà-ti-àlà (The king who dresses in white), many sees him as a sign of Olódùmarè on earth and refer to him as the creator, because he is in charge of creating the physical parts of the human in Olódùmarè’s place and that is why he is seen as the divine sculptor.

It is difficult to identify Obàtálá’s properties because of his pureness and broad spectrum of spiritual forces which we refer to with the words “Òrìsàs Funfun” that means consciousness guided by the whiteness. The word whiteness is used as symbol for spiritual elevation and pureness. The spiritual elevation is a process to focus the awareness towards the future beyond the limitations of the present. Funfun is the opposite of Dúdú which means blackness; the word blackness does not have a negative meaning, but means deep wisdom.

There are about 100 names of praise to the several manifestations that can be used within the spectrum of spiritual forces, grouped under the general denomination of Òrìsàs Funfun which is aspects that are considered to Obàtálá. These different names of praise have different meaning across different regions.

A way to approach this theme is to understand that Obàtálá is frequently called “The one”. The Awo (mystery) is that Obàtálá is clearly represented as an androgyny and spiritual force. Since Ifa is based on understanding of the creation as a polarity between the powers of extraction and contraction. The representation of Obàtálá as androgynous suggests that the power of the white robe covers both forms of primary force in the universe. This idea is consistent with learns from physics which tells us that light waves are both particles and waves. One particle is a unit that moves in its own source while a wave is a particle of light that moves far away from its source.

These two forms of movement can be described as expansion and contraction.

When we speak about Obàtálá as the androgynous source of both different lights, we use the name Òrìsà-Nlá more commonly. Òrìsà-Nlá is translated as the source of conscience that is formed by the white robe. The masculine aspect or expansive of this Òrìsà is frequently known as Obàtálá, which means he king of the white robe or u Oba-Nlá which means the king of conscience that is formed by the white robe. The feminine aspect or contractive of this Òrìsà is usually known as Yemòwó which means mother of my hands or u Odùdúwa which means womb that generates the character.

The Script of Ifa uses the term “Yemòwó” to describe the wife of Obàtálá. In symbolic terms the name of praise “mother of my hands” refers to the ability of the hands when they take care of personal or deep needs of somebody. Ifa also writes about the necessity of the hands working together with the feet.


The following are some of that names of praise that are used to Obàtálá


A – kè – bí – àlà; Radiant white
Alábalese; He who predicts the future
Alamorer; Master of the good play
Oluorogbo; Master of the medicine of truth
Oluwo Igbo; Main prophet of the forest
Òòsálá; Spirit of mystical vision
Òòsà Ìgbowújìn; Spirit that lives in distant forest
Òrìs à Alase; Spirit with the power of dreams
Òrísálá; Spirit creator of the light
Òrìsà – og’enia; Spirit that possesses humans
Oba – I gbó; King of the forest
Obalofun; King of pure speech
Obanla; King of pureness
Obàtálá gbingbin iki; Great spirit of white web
Oba – ti – álá; King of the vision
Òsèèrèmògbò; Source of goodness from the forest
Pàkelemò; Pumpkin of wisdom


Oríkì Obàtálá
(Praising the king of the white fabric)


Ìbà Òrísálá osere igbo, iku ike oro.
My respect to the spirit of the white light, the messenger that brings goodness to the forest and overcomes the dead

Ababa je’gbin, a s’omo nike agbara, a wuwo bi erin, Oba pata – pata ti nba won gb’ ode iranje
Immortal father who eats snails, the son of the oldest, who brought the mystery of the mystic vision, master of everything that exists on earth


Ilé Abomalé Ifá - Òrìsá. | e - post: osawo@ileabomale.com
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