Ife: Wikis


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Ife bronze casting of a King, dated around 12th Century, in the British Museum.

Ife (Yoruba: Ifè, also Ilé-Ifẹ̀) is an ancient Yoruba city in south-western Nigeria. Evidence of urbanization at the site has been discovered to date back to roughly 500 AD. It is located in present day Osun State, with a population of 501,952.



Today a mid-sized city, Ife is home to the Obafemi Awolowo University and Natural History Museum of Nigeria. Ife people are of the Yoruba ethnic group, one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Ife has a local television station called NTA Ife, and is home to various businesses. Ife is also the trade center for a farming region. Yams, cassava, grain, cacao, and tobacco are grown. Cotton is grown and used to weave cloth. Hotels in Ilé-Ife include Hotel Diganga Ife-Ibadan road, Mayfair Hotel, Obafemi Awolowo University Guest House etc. Ilé-Ife has a stadium with a capacity of 9,000 and a second division professional league football team. The meaning of the word "ife" in the Yoruba language is 'sprawl' or 'expansion'; 'Ile-Ife' means 'The House of Expansion' (the city is regarded as the origin of Yorubà culture, industry and of people of Yoruba descent.)


According to Yoruba people, Ife is where the founding deities Oduduwa and Obatala began the creation of the world, as directed by the paramount deity Olodumare. Obàtálá created the first humans out of clay, while Odùduwà became the first divine king of the Yoruba. The Oòni (King) of Ife claims direct descent from the god Oduduwa, and is counted first among Yoruba kings. To this day many of the surviving traditional religious groups of the city celebrate the creation of the world during the Itapa festival. According to anthropologist, its habitation can be traced as far back as 350 BCE.[1]

Mythic origin of Ife

The Yoruba claim to have originated from Ife.[2] According to Yoruba mythology, Olorun, the supreme god, ordered his son, Oduduwa, to climb down from the heavens on a chain with three things.[2] Oduduwa scattered a handful of dirt over the ocean creating Ile Ife, then put a cockerel on the land which dug a hole.[3] Oduduwa planted a palm nut in the hole and from there sprang a great tree with sixteen branches representing the families of the early Yoruba states.[3]

Migratory origin of Ife

Another origin story from the Yoruba is that they were the product of intermarriage between a small band of invaders from the savanna slightly to the North East and the indigenous inhabitants of the forest.[3] According to this version, Oduduwa was the son of Lamurudu, a prince from the east , possibly related to the ancient Nok culture of the savanna. Oduduwa and the natives left the land.[3] After wandering for some time, they found and settled the state of Ife.[3] Oduduwa then had a son call Okanbi, Okanbi then had seven descendants who founded the Yoruba states of Owu, Sabe, Popo, Benin, Ila orangun, Ketu and Oyo.[3]

The best of the history of Ile-Ife as told and confirmed has been proofed that Lamurudu left the East around the 7th century, and wondered around Africa for a long time before settling at a place around present day Edo.The Lamurudus were accepted into the society as a highly respected family.Eventually they were accorded the royal status but not the King or ruler as they demanded.As a result the head of Lamurudu family named Oduduwa left with anger to settle at a place where they will be recognized and accorded the status the Lamurudu family has been seeking.Eventually they reached Ile-Ife which the "oracle" has foretold to Oduduwa before they left for their long journey with fanfare. The people of Ile Ife has also been foretold the arrival of their future King,hence, when Oduduwa and his entourage reached Ile-Ife, the acceptance was mutual unlike the previous city that scorned them.Oduduwa had six sons and one grandson who went ahead to find their own empires namely Ila Oragun,Owu,Ketu,Sabe,Popo,Oyo and Benin.Oranmiyan the last born to Oduduwa was the founder of Oyo Empire who was also overseer to the Edo empire after oduduwa refused to the plead from Edo people for his governance.When Oranmiyan decided to go back to Ile Ife, he had a child named Eweka with an indigenous woman who became the first legitimate ruler of Edo kingdom which became Benin out of a name given to them by Oranmiyan. Oranmiyan later on went ahead to found the OYO empire that stretched from western bank of river Niger to the Estern bank of river Volta.it will change them like never before.

Ife Kingdom

Between 700 and 900 A.D., Ife began to develop as a major artistic center. Important people were often depicted with large heads because they thought the Ase was held in the head. The Ase is the inner power and energy of a person. Their rulers are also often depicted with their mouths covered so that the power of their speech would not be too great. They did not idealize individual people, but individualized the office of king.

The city was a settlement of substantial size between the 9th and 12th centuries, with houses featuring potsherd pavement. Ilé-Ifè is known worldwide for its ancient and naturalistic bronze, stone and terracotta sculptures, which reached their peak of artistic expression between 1200 and 1400 A.D. After this period, production declined as political and economic power shifted to the nearby kingdom of Benin which like the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo, developed into a major empire.

Bronze and terracotta art created by this civilization are one of the earliest and most significant instances of realism in art, dating back to before the European Renaissance.[4]

In modern culture

A major exhibition entitled Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures of West Africa will be held in the British Museum from 4 March to 6 June 2010.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Ife (from ca. 350 B.C.)
  2. ^ a b Stride, G.T. and C. Ifeka: "Peoples and Empires of West Africa: West Africa in History 1000 - 1800" page 288. Nelson, 1971
  3. ^ a b c d e f Stride, G.T. and C. Ifeka: "Peoples and Empires of West Africa: West Africa in History 1000 - 1800" page 290. Nelson, 1971
  4. ^ The Story of Africa: Ife and BeninBBC
  5. ^ http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/future_exhibitions/kingdom_of_ife.aspx


  • Akinjogbin, I. A. (Hg.): The Cradle of a Race: Ife from the Beginning to 1980, Lagos 1992 (The book also has chapters on the present religious situation in the town).
  • Bascom, William: The Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria, New York 1969 (The book mainly deals with Ile-Ife).
  • Lange, Dierk: "The dying and the rising God in the New Year Festival of Ife", in: Lange, Ancient Kingdoms of West Africa, Dettelbach 2004, pp. 343–376.
  • Willett, Frank: Ife in the History of West African Sculpture, London 1967 (The book also deals with some oral traditions of Ile-Ife).

External links

Coordinates: 7°28′N 4°34′E / 7.467°N 4.567°E / 7.467; 4.567

IFE or Ife may refer to:

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