Manifestations of Orí (Head) in Traditional Yorùbá Architecture

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Author: Adeyemi Akande, University of Lagos, Nigeria
Published: November 2, 2020

Citation: Akande, A. (2020). Manifestations of Orí (Head) in Traditional Yorùbá Architecture. IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 5(2).


Yorùbá traditional architecture is not spontaneous. It is a product of a well-structured cultural and religious system. Every aspect from the choice of material, to the style of building, and even its construction system was designed with primary considerations for family, community and belief. Because architecture is an effective organ for the reflection of both cultural and religious thoughts, this study sought to query an inconspicuous but possible use of traditional Yorùbá architecture as a medium for the expression of orí ideology and worship in the early times. Relying principally on secondary data and new insights from the juxtaposing of information gathered from religious practises and local art and architecture, the study attempted to answer the question, “How is traditional Yorùbá architecture used as a medium to propagate the centrality of orí?” The study noted that there appears to be a metaphysical similarity in the presentation and meaning of orí (head) in traditional Yorùbá sculpture and òrùlé (roof) in Yorùbá architecture in a manner that ties them together. The conclusion is that the roof in Yorùbá architecture is indeed a metaphorical object for the assertion of the pre-eminence of orí among the Yorùbá.


architecture, head, Ori, religion, roof, Yoruba

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