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La Quête Du Sens Dans Le Symbolisme Yoruba: Le Cas D'Erinle

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The article shows that in Yoruba mythology Erinle is a male hunter who is named after (or associated with) an elephant and who-for diverse reasons-is finally transformed into a water-spirit. In his cult Erinle is mainly venerated as a river-god who, like the river goddesses Qsun and Yemoya, blesses his followers with children. In the iconography of his cult, however, the material symbols of a Yoruba water-spirit (terra-cotta pots with water and pebbles from the river: fans) are mixed with those that refer to the hunter and the symbol-complex of the god of iron and of the wilderness (iron chains; fly whisks; wrought iron staffs topped by birds). Outside his cult Erinle is sometimes symbolized by the image of an elephant with reference to his name. In the cult of his close friend Sango, the Oyo god of thunder, Erinle is figurated as a mudfish or a human being with mudfish legs, symbolizing him as a water-spirit. Comparison with mudfish symbolism in other Yoruba cults suggests that this mudfish symbolism refers to Erinle only when he is assimilated to Sango as the founding ancestor of the Qyo kingdom.

Affiliations: 1: Museum Kamstraat 55, NL-6522 GB Nijmegen


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