related topics
{god, call, give}
{food, make, wine}
{law, state, case}
{son, year, death}
{black, white, people}
{city, population, household}
{specie, animal, plant}
{disease, patient, cell}
{line, north, south}

In the religion of the Yoruba people, Obàtálá is the creator of human bodies, which were brought to life by God's breath.

Obàtálá is also the owner of all ori or heads. Any orisha may lay claim to an individual, but until that individual is initiated into the priesthood of that orisha, Obàtálá still owns that head. This stems from the belief that the soul resides in the head.


Mythical Yorubas And Obatala

According to mythical stories, Obatala created people with disabilities while drunk on palm wine, making him the patron deity of such people. People born with congenital defects are called eni orisa: literally, "people of Obatala". He is also referred to as the orisha of the north. He is always dressed in white, hence the meaning of his name, Obatala (King or ruler of the white cloth). His worshippers strive to practice moral correctness as unblemished as his robe.

In Candomblé, Obatalá (Oxalá) is the oldest "Orixa funfun" ("white deity"), referring to spiritual purity and pure light, both physically and symbolically as in the "light" of consciousness). In the Bahia State (Brazil), Obatala has been syncretized with Our Lord of Bonfim and is the subject of a large syncretic religious celebration, the Festa do Bonfim, which takes place in January in the city of Salvador and includes the washing of the church steps with a special water, made with flowers.

In Santería, "Regla de Ocha branch", Obàtálá has been syncretized with Our Lady of Mercy.

According to mythical stories Obatala is the eldest of all orisha and was granted authority to create the earth. Before he could return to heaven and report to Olodumare however, his rival Oduduwa (also called Oduwa, Oodua, Odudua or Eleduwa), often described as his younger brother, usurped his position by taking the satchel and returning to heaven. A great feud ensued between the two that is re-enacted every year in Ile Ife, Nigeria. Ultimately, Oduduwa and his sons were able to rule without Obatala's consent.

In Yoruba theology, Obatala must never be worshipped with palm wine, palm oil or salt. His worshippers may eat palm oil and salt, but never taste palm wine.

Oriki (Praise Names)

  • Oluwa Aiye or Oluwa Aye - Lord of the Earth
  • Alabalase - He who has divine authority
  • Baba Arugbo - Old Master or Father
  • Baba Araye - Master or Father of all human beings (lit. citizens of the earth)
  • Orisanla (also spelt Orisainla, Orishanla or Orishainla) or Oshanla - The arch divinity

Full article ▸

related documents
Dinka mythology
Callisto (mythology)
Abenaki mythology
Ajax the Lesser
Sedna (mythology)
Dian Cecht
Culture hero
Unknown God
Aztec mythology