Awoota and Mazo for Erinle

Erinle has a special and unique form of pottery in his Yoruba shrines. It is called the awo ota Erinle and comprises of a deep bowl, called isaasun or ikoko, and it’s lid often has an anthropomorphic figure (sometimes the figure is more abstract or, completely abstract!) The lid may also have relief designs of some of the weapons used by this warrior deity. The figure is often described as a worshiper or wife of Erinle and a small bowl on the lid is used to hold offerings such as kola nut. Get this – the pottery plays an important role in possession as a priestess of Erinle will dance with the lid on her head when Erinle possesses it – how beautiful is that?

The above images of a good friend’s awo ota Erinle made by one of two prominent Erinle potters documented by Robert Farris Thompson (who is also an initiate of Erinle!) Abatan Odefunke Ayinke has one distinctive style and the other potter is simply known as “the rival of Abatan” (Thompson 1969). My friend Luis is deeply devoted to Erinle and received initiation (idoshu) for him in Nigeria. Luis painstakingly renovated his awo-ota Erinle, making it worthy of the King of the River. I made a mazo for his Erinle, visible in the photos above. The photos, therefore, represent a union of contemporary West African and Afro-Atlantic Erinle worship and aesthetics.


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