Art and Life in the Yoruba Cosmological Model
Drawing on works of art on view in African Cosmos: Stellar Arts, Dr. Babatunde Lawal presents profound interconnections of art and life among Yoruba peoples of West Africa. The Yoruba creation stories describe the human body as a work of sculpture molded by the artist-deity Obàtálá to incarnate the soul on earth; they also assert that Obàtálá and other deities (òrìsà) assumed human bodies to accompany the first mortals to the newly created earth, where they helped lay the foundations of Yoruba culture. This lecture sheds light on dynamic forms and meanings in Yoruba art and explains how the deities play vital roles in the workings of the universe, serving as intermediaries between humanity and Olódùmarè, the Supreme Being and source of existence.
Dr. Babatunde Lawal is professor of African, African-American, and African-Diaspora art at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Image: Yoruba artist, Nigeria, Shango Staff, mid-20th century, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution