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King's Crown


King's Crown
King's Crown
King's Crown
19th century
Beads, leather, canvas, and wicker
The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund

Key Ideas
Discussion Questions

Long, long ago, Olorun (OH-low-run), the sky god, lowered a great chain from the heavens to the ancient waters. Down this chain climbed Oduduwa, Olorun's son. Oduduwa brought with him a handful of dirt, a special five-toed chicken, and a palm nut. He threw the dirt upon the ancient waters and set the chicken on the dirt. The chicken busily scratched and scattered the dirt until it formed the first dry earth. In the center of this new world, Oduduwa created the magnificent Ife (EE-fay) kingdom. He planted the palm nut, which grew into a proud tree with 16 branches, symbolizing the 16 sons andgrandsons of Oduduwa.1

Oduduwa was the first ruler of the kingdom and the father of all Yoruba. Over time he crowned his 16 sons and grandsons and sent them off to establish their own great Yoruba kingdoms. As descendants of the sky god, these first Yoruba rulers and their direct descendants were divine kings. Only they could wear special veiled crowns that symbolized their sacred power.2

1 P. C. Lloyd, "Sacred Kingship and Government among the Yoruba," Africa 30, no. 3: pp. 222-223 Return to Text
2 Variations on this creation story exist among the many Yoruba kingdoms. Each variation legitimizes the lineage and right to rule of the individual kingdom's own ruler. Return to Text

Key Ideas Story Background Discussion Questions


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