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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
:lol: A series of threads on the traditional/pre-colonial regions

This thread is on the traditional religion of the Igbo people of South Eastern Nigeria, though not as well known as its Yoruba counterpart, bits and pieces of it can be found still today in SE Nigeria as well as parts of the Americas. In many ways Odinani is syncrethic faith that is flexible enough to be combined with other faiths such as Christianity.

Odinani features concepts quite unique in African tradtion, with Gods being egalitarian with practioners (in other words both Gods and humans were seen more as equals) with the ability to "fire" a God when it did not perform up to expectations.

Anyway this a brief introduction of the religion, known as Odinani:)
 
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The basics of Odinani

Ọdinani, also Ọdinala, Omenala,Omenana, Odinana or Ọmenani is the traditional cultural beliefs and practises of the Igbo people[1] of West Africa. These terms, as used here in the Igbo language, are synonymous with the traditional Igbo "religious system" which was not considered separate from the social norms of ancient or traditional Igbo societies. Theocentric in nature, spirituality played a huge role in their everyday lives. Although it has largely been supplanted by Christianity, the indigenous belief system remains in strong effect among the rural and village populations of the Igbo, where it has at times influenced the colonial religions. Odinani is a panentheistic faith, having a strong central deity at its head. All things spring from this deity. Although a semi-pantheon exists in the belief system, as it does in many indigenous African and Eastern religions, the lesser deities prevalent in Odinani expressly serve as elements of Chukwu the central deity.[2]


Like all religions, Odinani is the vehicle used by its practitioners to understand their World (called "Uwa"), or more specifically, the part of the World that affects them*— which is to say the dry Land on which the Igbo live and gather sustenance*— and it is from this that the belief acquires its names: "Ọ di" (Igbo: it is ) + n'(na - Igbo: on/within) + "Ani" (Igbo: the Land or the Earth goddess) in the Northern Igbo dialects and also "O me" (Igbo: it happens ) + n'(na - Igbo: on/within) + "Ala" (Igbo: the Land or the physical manifestation of the Earth goddess as dry land) as used primarily in the Southern Igbo dialects.[3] Chukwu, as the central deity and driving force in the cosmos is unknowable, and too great of a power to be approached directly save by the manifestations that exist on the World (the Land, the Skies, and the Sea). Thus, Odinani rarely deals directly with the force that is Chukwu. Many other spirits and forces also exist in Odinani belief and folklore.[2]
Origin

The term ‘ọdịnala’ also pronounced ‘ọdịnani’ (depending on dialect) is derived from three Igbo words ‘ọdị’ –meaning ‘it is’; ‘na’ – meaning ‘on/within’ and ‘ala’ – meaning ‘the Land or the Earth’. In this literary sense, Ọdịnala comes to mean ‘it is on the Land’ or ‘something that is anchored on the Earth or Land’.

In Igbo nation where this word originated, it is also called omenala, omenana, or omenani by some tribes. M.O Ene (2000) presented Igbo culture as: "a dynamic phenomenon that deals with the artifacts and mores by which Ndiigbo of Africa distinguish themselves from other racial/ethnic groups." To him, it is a serious mistake to distinguish between Igbo religion and culture but he later went further to agree that Igbo religion (Ọdịnala) led to Igbo culture (omenala) by stating that: “..if, the Igbo have no religion, then they have no culture….. Religion is our culture, our way of life”. Thus, no matter what it may be called, the truth is that 80% of the Igbo people use the word ọdịnala to describe the Igbo traditional religion and have differentiated it from omenala; which is culture.

There are various definitions of the term ‘Ọdịnala’ from different Igbo scholars, writers, philosophers and teachers of culture and tradition. The conclusion could be drawn from Dr. Uju Afulezi (2000) and Ene M.O (2003) that “Ọdịnala is the ancient Igbo traditional religion”. This definition has some limitations and is subjected to criticism especially, if we can remember that Ọdịnala is anchored on the land (ala). Provided that ala exists, it is the same all over the world. The basic belief and the teachings of this religion (Ọdịnala) hold in any part of the Earth (Ala); hence the Igbo sentence ‘ala wu otu’ which translates ‘the land is the same everywhere’. Thus, Ọdịnala in this veiw is for every world but originated from Igboland.

Ọdịnala is therefore, the ancient religion of the people that connect mmadu (human being) to Chukwu (God) through Chi (personal spiritual guardian or providence). It is an ancient sacred science that enables people to exist in peace, love and harmony with Chukwu (God), Chi (personal providence) and Arushi (the supernatural forces) on their way back to eternal.

Like all religions, Ọdịnala is the vehicle used by its practitioners (Dibias or priests) and spiritual students (followers of the religion) to understand their World (called "Uwa"), or more specifically, the part of the World that affects them — which is to say the dry land on which the people live and gather sustenance. I call it ‘a gifted spiritual route’.

Alusi

Chukwu's incarnations in the world (Igbo: uwa) are the Alusi. The Alusi, who are also known as Arushi, Anusi or Arusi in differing dialects all spring from Ala the earth goddess who embodies the workings of the world. There are lesser deities in Odinani, each of whom are responsible for a specific aspect of nature or abstract concept. According to Igbo lore, these lesser Alusi, as elements of Chukwu, have their own specific purpose. They exist only as long as their purpose does thus many Alusi die off except for the universally served Alusi. The top four Alusi of the Igbo pantheon are Ala, Igwe, Anyanwu, and Amadioha (or Kamalu); other less important Alusi exist after these, some depending on the community.[4]
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Ala
Alusi of the earth, fertility, and morality
Symbol:python, Crescent Moon
Consort:Amadioha
Planet:Earth

Various depictions of Ala




Ala (also known as Ani, Ana, Ale, and Ali in varying Igbo dialects) is the female Alusi (deity) of the earth, morality, death, and fertility in Odinani. She is the most important Alusi in the Igbo pantheon. In Odinani, Ala rules over the underworld which holds the deceased ancestors in her womb. Her name literally translates to 'Ground' in the Igbo language, denoting her powers over the earth and her status as the ground itself. Ala is considered the highest Alusi in the Igbo pantheon and was the first Alusi created by Chukwu, God almighty. Ala's husband is Amadioha, the sky god.

As the goddess of morality, Ala is involved in judging human actions and is in charge of Igbo law and customs known as 'Omenala'. Taboos and crimes among Igbo communities that are against the standard of Ala are called nsọ Ala. All ground is considered 'Holy land' as it is Ala herself. With human fertility, Ala is credited for the productivity of land. Ala's messenger and living agent on earth is the python (Igbo: éké), it is and animal especially revered in many Igbo communities. In Odinani art, Ala's image is mostly depicted in clay Mbari temples.
Powers

It is said that if a person commits a taboo in a community, that they have also desecrated or insulted Ala as the abomination (called ajo njo or Aru Ala, Alu Ani) was committed on her earth. Ala is also responsible for many aspects of Igbo society, and guardianship of women and children in general. It is also believed that she can be Chukwu's wife or daughter. She is often depicted with a small child in her arms and her symbol is the crescent moon. It is believed that the souls of the dead reside in her sacred womb. All in the community have to respect Ala as everybody lives on ala, the earth. It was sometimes believed that Ala could swallow you up into the underground.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Amadioha
Alusi of Thunder and Lightening
Symbol: White ram
Associate:Anyanwu
Planet: Sun
Day: Afor
Color: Red

Various depictions of Amadioha


In colonial styles :D


Amadioha (Igbo literal meaning "free will of the people") is the Alusi (god) of thunder and lightning of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. He is amongst the most popular of Igbo deities and in some parts of Igboland, he is referred to as Amadiora, Kamalu (which is short for Kalu Akanu),[1]Kamanu,[2] or Ofufe.[3] Astrologically, his governing planet is the Sun.[4] His color is red, and his symbol is a white ram.[5] Metaphysically, Amadioha represents the collective will of the people.[6] He is often associated with Anyanwu, who is the Igbo god of the Sun. While Anyanwu is more prominent in northern Igboland, Amadioha is more prominent in the southern part. His day is Afo, which is the second market day of the Igbo four day week.[7]
Origins
Shrines to Amadioha still exist in different parts of Igboland, but the main shrine is located at Ozuzu in Ahoada Local Government Area of present day Rivers State, Nigeria. Although it is located there, it is not the patron deity of the people of Ozuzu. In fact, it is said that Ozuzu is the town in which Amadioha "lives" and it serves as it earthly headquarters. It is from there that it spread to other parts of Igboland.[8]
Functions of Amadioha
«God of Justice»
Amadioha is first and foremost known as a god of justice. He speaks through thunder, and he strikes with lightning. He creates thunder and lightning by casting "thunderstones" down to earth.[9] Persons judged guilty by Amadioha are either killed by lightning (which leaves a black mark on the forehead) or attacked by a swarm of bees.[10] The property of the victim is usually taken by the priests of Amadioha, and the body is left unburied and the victim unmourned, as the punishment is considered to be a righteous one from God.[11] In some parts of Igboland, Amadioha is used as a curse word.[12] Oaths are often sworn to him, which can carry deadly penalties when broken.

The ritual cleansing for Amadioha is very costly and tasking. The deity can only be appeased by transferring the curse to a live goat that is let loose outside of the walls of the community.[13] The ram is a common offering for him.[5] The priestly clan of Amadioha are known as Umuamadi, which translates to children of Amadioha.[14]
«God of love, peace and unity»
Besides justice, Amadioha is also a god of love, peace and unity, and is prayed for increase of crops, children in the home, and benevolence.[15] Aside the above manifestations of Amadioha, he represents, as different from most African religious world views, a messianic hope for those in critical situations.
«Creator God»
Amadioha is also considered to be a creator God. In some traditions, human beings were made by him when he sent a bolt of lightning down to strike a silk cotton tree, which split and revealed a man and a woman.[16]
«Consort to Ani (Ala)»
Amadioha is often shown as a husband to Ani, who is the Earth mother. In some Igbo traditions, the pair are said to be the first Alusi to have been created by Chukwu. The two are often honored with Mbari houses, which were made with mudbrick. Amadioha is typically depicted as a fair-skinned, titled gentleman of cool temper who is the patron of "light skinned Igbos" and "men of exalted rank."[17] While Ani is considered to be the lawmaker of Igbo society (which is known as Odinani), Amadioha is the enforcer and protector of the law.
«God of Carvers»
In the play, the Other Side of the Mask, the character Jamike refers to Amadioha as "the god of carvers" and identifies him further as "the god that sends lightning to kill the evil spirits who inhabit the trees from which carvers hew their wood.[18]
«Personal Spirit»
Amadioha as a personal shrine is a spirit of enterprise that brings wealth. It is also a representative of the head of the household.[19]
«Oracle»
In precolonial times, the village of Ozuzu turned Amadioha/Kamalu into an oracle called Kamalu Ozuzu.[4] People would travel all over Igboland to visit the oracle in order to settle disputes and for help with crucial decisions. Parties found guilty by the oracle could be sold into slavery.[20]
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Mind you not the big name Gods the smaller ones its like firing Paul you can't fire Jesus :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Ikenga
Alusi of Time, Success and Achievement
Symbol: Ram's Horns
Number: 3
Planet: Mars
Color: Red

Depictions of Ikenga



Ikenga (Igbo literal meaning "place of strength") is a horned Alusi (deity) found among the Igbo people in southeastern Nigeria. It is one of the most popular symbols of the Igbo people, and the most common cultural artifact. Astrologically, Ikenga's governing planet is Mars[1] and its sacred number is 3.[2] Ikenga is mostly maintained, kept or owned by men and occasionally by women of high reputation and integrity in the society. It comprises someone's Chi (personal god), his Ndichie (ancestors), aka Ikenga (right hand), ike (power) as well as spiritual activation through prayer and sacrifice.[3]

Ikenga is specially found among the Northern Igbos of Anambra, Enugu, Delta and some parts of Kogi State. However, its not an exclusively Igbo symbol. The various peoples of Southern Nigeria have slightly different notions of the components of an individual personality, but all agree that these various aspects can only be affected through ritual and personal effort. Some variants of it are found in Ijaw, Ishan, Isoko, Urhobo and Edo areas. Among the Isoko people, there are three types of personal shrine images: Oma, which represents the "spirit double" that resides in the other world; Obo which symbolizes the right hand and personal endeavor and the lvri which stands for personal determination. In the Urhobo areas it is also regarded as Ivri and in the Edo areas its called Ikegobo.[3]

Functions of Ikenga
<<God of Achievement>>
Ikenga is a personal god of human endeavor, achievement, success, and victory. Ikenga is grounded in the belief that the power for a man to accomplish things is in his right hand.[4] It also governs over industry, farming, and blacksmithing, and is celebrated every year with an annual Ikenga festival.[5] It is believed by its owners to bring wealth and fortune as well as protection.
<<God of Time>>
Two-faced Ikenga is the oldest concept of Ikenga in Igboland. It is a two-faced god, with one face looking at the old year while one face looks at the new year. This is the basis of the oldest and most ancient Igbo calendar.[6] As a god of beginnings, it has the praise name of Ikenga owa ota.
Consecration of Ikenga
Ikenga requires consecration before usage. Normally, an Ikenga is consecrated in the presence of one's kinsmen or agemates by lineage head. Offerings of things like yam, ****, wine, kolanuts and alligator pepper are sacrificed to it. Consecrations are often more elaborate and occasionally less depending on the financial strength of the owner. If the owner is devoted, he feeds his Ikenga on a daily basis with Kola and wine and periodically, especially before an important undertaking, he offers sacrificial blood of a **** or ram to induce the spirit to help him succeed. Afterward, the owner also offers thanksgiving to his Ikenga for making him to achieve success. Success as believed, solely depends on their personal Chi, represented by Ikenga and the support of kinsmen.[3]
Types of Ikenga
According to M.D.W Jeffreys, there are three types of Ikenga: ikenga madu (human), ikenga alusi (spirit), and ntu aga (divination objects). The first is a fully developed human figure with horns, seated on a stool. The second is a cylinder with horns. The divination objects are small and simple and come in different shapes.[7]
<<Warrior Ikenga>>
The most famous type of ikenga is probably the "warrior," depicting a well-developed human figure with horns and a fierce expression. It is seated on a stool, holding objects in both hands. The right hand holds a knife with a pronounced handle and a slightly curved blade, the left hand a tusk or more often, a severed human head with eyes, nose, and mouth bulging out of the concave face.[7] The warrior ikenga corresponds to the stage in life when men are expected to demonstrate their military prowess. Owned by many of the younger members of the age grade, it depicts the ideal young man: robust, wearing the warrior's grass skirt, and holding a knife and a severed human head. This pose used to be seen in warrior groups when they performed dances.[8]

The knife is always held in the right hand, called aka ikenga (the ikenga hand), and the ikenga is also called a shrine to the right hand. In recent times the overt violent element of the severed head and knife has been replaced by metaphorical way as symbols of aggression. The most characteristic of all the iconographic elements of the ikenga, the horns (opi), also carries this lii, also carries this connotation. The Igbo proverb says, "The ram goes into a fight head first" (Ebuno jị ibi éjé ogụ); that is, one must plunge into a venture in order to succeed.[8]
<<Community Ikenga>>
A second major ikenga type, an elaboration of the warrior form, has a superstructure with human or animal images, or both. The seated figure often displays a tusk in the left hand and a staff in the right. In many examples, ichi marks are represented on the face. Some of these figures, especially the very large ones, often are more than a meter high, do not belong to an individual but to an age set or a lineage segment.[9] These community Ikenga figures stand for group rather than individual achievements and prestige, and demonstrate continuity between the individual and society.[10] They are related to the display figures known as ogonachomma ("the eagle seeks out beauty") and display a great deal of artistic inventiveness.

In the simpler examples of this group, the superstructure on a disk base supports animal figures. Other large Ikenga have very intricate superstructures consisting of two horns that circle the sides of the head and continue upward to form another circle terminating in snake heads. Pointed protrusions occur on the lower part of the horns. Above the head are four ram heads and one or more leopards at the top.[9] The motifs on the community Ikenga tend to have complex head dress signifying collective ownership. The motifs also depicts what the community is known for, for instance whether they are known as warriors, hunters, traders or predominantly farmers. During the annual festival, all male born during the previous year are brought before the community Ikenga and thus are validated as community numbers.[3]
<<Titleholder's Ikenga>>
The elaborate ikenga figures, especially those with superstructures, seem to correspond to the more advanced, title-taking stages in a man's life. The three-legged stool, known as the Awka stool, was reserved for one of the highest rank of the title system, the ozo title. The staff indicates authority, and comes in a complex hierarchy, from a simple wooden one to a rod of forged iron with brass rings. The most common type represented in ikenga is the nsuagilign, distinguished by openwork on the shaft. The tusk, okike, held in the left hand, is used as a trumpet, odu. It alludes to the elephant, a widespread symbol for power and leadership. A stool and tusk, though not a staff, were often carried for persons of high title by a young boy or a girl.

Most of the elaborate ikenga bear the ichi scarification pattern, consisting of parallel vertical lines on the forehead and temples. Scarification was a professional specialization of experts from the Awka community. The ichi marks were used to distinguish the highest-ranking members of the title societies, as well as sons and daughters of the nobility. A superstructure usually also consists of references to animals. One prominent animal used on the titleholder ikenga figures is the leopard, agu, the king of the animals and an emblem of the political authority of a titled man. The horns of the ram or other animals, found on all ikenga figures, signify power and aggression. Many elaborate examples display a whole figure of a ram, or at least a full head. Snakes, birds, and turtles may also be included on the ikenga.

Numerous ikenga, both the warrior and the titled person's types, have a row of pointed projections flanking the head, usually three or another odd number on each side. Ikenga in the southern Igbo area have three knobs on a horizontal bar. Besides being associated with Ikenga, the number three is also associated with males throughout West Africa. These projections may stand for nzu, cone-shaped pieces of chalk used in rituals. This native chalk, suggesting purity and protection, is sometimes applied to the eyes and temples. High-ranking people need magical protection because they are often objects of envy, which is commonly expressed by witchcraft.[10]
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Ekwensu
Alusi of bargains, chaos, and change
Symbol: Tortoise

Depictions of Ekwensu


Ekwensu was a Trickster God (Alusi) of the Igbo people who served as the Alusi or God of Bargains and the tortoise. Crafty at trade and negotiations, he was often invoked for guidance in difficult mercantile situations. Like most Trickster Gods, the deity was a force of Chaos and Change, thus in his more violent aspects, Ekwensu was also revered as a God of War and Victory who ruled over the wicked spirits and the chaotic forces of nature. His companion was Death. With the advent of Christianity, the more beneficent aspects of the deity were supplanted by missionaries who came to misrepresent Ekwensu as Satan.[1]

He was the testing force of Chukwu, and along with Ani the Earth goddess, and Igwe, the Sky God, make up the three highest Alusi's of the ancient Igbo people. Ekwensu is also the Igbo word for the Tester.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Njoku Ji

Alusi of yams

Njoku Ji was the guardian deity of the yam for the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. In parts of Igboland there are still annual rituals in honor of the yam deity known as Ifejioku In some parts children who were dedicated to the service of the deity were named Njoku. As adults such children were expected to become prosperous yam farmers which made them into nobility.

Ahia Njoku

Alusi of yams

In Igbo mythology, Ahia Njoku, also known as Ifejioku, Aha Njoku, is a goddess worshipped by the Igbo people of Nigeria.

She is responsible for yams, which were an ingredient important in the Igbo diet, and the women who care for them.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Chi

Chi is the personal spiritual guardian of a person. Chi as a personal providence is a divine agent assigned to each human from cradle to the coffin. Chukwu will assign ones Chi before and at the time of birth and which remain with the person for the rest of his/her lives on Earth (Uwa). Chi simply means an Arushi (supernatural being) that is assigned to a human being for care, guardians and providence; which remain with a person till the end of his/ser lives on Earth. Unlike Chukwu that is genderless, Chi can take either a famine or masculine. It is an ocean Chukwu’s divine love that takes form on the lower world. It is the sparks of Chukwu and the right of any Mmadu in the main stream.

Chi determines a person’s successes, misfortunes and failures throughout his life time. It serves as an intermediary between mmadu and Chukwu. The Igbo believe that their success in life is determined by their Chi, and that no man can rise past the greatness of his or her own Chi. In this respect, a person's Chi is analogous to the concept of a guardian angel in Western Christianity, the demon of Greek myth, and the genius of Roman myth.

To survive spiritually, one must establish a special relationship between him and his godly guardian. This places the human person at the forefront of interlinked activities that involve other cosmic forces. But not so fast: He who walks before his godly guardian runs the race of his life ‘Onye buru chi ya uzo, ogbagbue onwe ya n'oso’.
[edit] Dictation of Chi

The Igbo know that the Almighty Chukwu (God) cannot be manipulated in any way. Our lot is etched on the palm of our hands as destiny. You can’t decode it but you can derail it. Chi; the personal godly guardian, can be coerced to help here: ‘onye kwe chi ya ekwe’ (whoever believeth, achieveth).

Chi as the lower force of Chukwu is the only means through which one can get connected. One spiritual law here is that “no one reaches Chukwu directly or gets favor directly from the same supreme force except through Chi”. In this sense, dictation ones Chi marks the beginning of the person’s spiritual journey on Earth. This is one of the major practices of Ndiigbo.

Many of the times is people receiving prophesy that the major cause of their failure is a spirit of their home town. This is not a general spirit for everybody but rather one’s personal Chi. If you receive such a prophesy, it means that Ọdịnala is calling you of which to some people, it is a problem. The only solution to such problem is to dictate your personal providence, Chi; identify it by name and know what the spirit want and how to placate/negotiate with it.

This may be difficult if the Dibias (priest in Ọdịnala) are not there. The Dibia can through divination identify a person’s Chi and give more idea on how to placate it. For such spiritual purposes, please visit any of the real temples of Ọdịnala eg Ukoma/Duruojikeeme Temple, Umunumo Amandugba, Isu, LGA, Imo State. There are many other temples around Igboland and diaspora.
Inouwa

Inouwa or Ilouwa is the Igbo belief in reincarnation in their mythology, which translates form Igbo to English as to come back to the world. Reincarnation is believed to occur between immediate and extended family and sometimes the person who is reincarnated notifies the family, before their death, who they will come back to the world as.[1]

Reincarnation
Relatives identify the reincarnated ancestor by checking the newborn for body markings/birthmarks or physical features the ancestor had had. Statements as well as the behavior of the baby similar to the deceased ancestor is made to confirm the identity of who the child was in their past life. Oracles can also confirm the identity of the baby in their past life.[2]
Afterlife

Ọdịnala belief in the concept of ‘life after life’. There are two cycles of life here. One cycle of this life is on earth while the other is in the spiritual world i.e. the other side of the realm. There are also two major calls in these cycles: (a). The inner call (which is to co-work with Chukwu in the spiritual world) and (b). The outer call (which is your destiny).

The final goal in Ọdịnala is anchored on answering the two calls once and for all in this life time with no too much hassle. Upon dictation of our personal providence (Chi), we are on our ways to our destiny (akalaaka). Actualizing ones destiny entails relating religion to humanity on Earth, thus answering the first call. The pattern of life chosen after meeting your destiny point will determine your level of acceptability after death as an ichie (a hallowed ancestor spirit or saint) in the spiritual world. In this case those who did good things on earth after meeting their destiny point; respect the laws of the land (iwu ala); died at ripened age and buried according to the traditions of the religion are usually accepted in the spiritual world to answer the final call.
MMUO

Mmuo is the spirit of ancestors who lived, died, and moved on to the great unknown, the other side of the realm. Hence, mmadu (human beings) must die to become mmuo (spirit being). If a man was good while alive, upon his departure he could become an ichie or nna-mmuo —a hallowed ancestor spirit or a saint. Ancestor spirits are more commonly known by the collective term "Ndiichie." A respected, living elder can therefore be called ichie —a living saint. Ndiichie is also used for a group of accomplished and distinguished elders who uphold the morals of the society, dispense unquestionable justic, and preserve the culture of the community.



A woman who has lived a distinguished life becomes nne-mmuo. Those who have lived horrible lives, and those who committed unpardonable sins (ajo njo) or alu (abomination) against Ani -- the Earth Deity, become ajo mmuo (evil spirits) or Ekwensu (Devil or Satan). The male ajo mmuo could be akaliogoli (a roguish spirit); the female counterpart could become either a mermaid (owummiri) or a bloodsucking amaosu (vampire) or some other gender-specific evil spirit. Some mmuo are so restless they come back to be born-again (ogbanje), not to make amends but to torment a mother, her family, and the community. [This must not be confused with the desired and celebrated "inouwa" or reincarnation.]
UWA

Uwa is our world, or the so-called "Mother Nature." [Compare with Hausa: uwa = mother]. This is the world we live in, the visible universe that directly impacts our life. Uwa is made up of two distinct parts: Igwe and Ala.



Igwe is the firmament, and it constitutes of the following:

Ulukpu (the clouds);

Onwa (the moon);

Alaigwe (the planets);

Ikuku (the winds) —the totality of winds and airs that hold the earth in place and help to make it everything it is.

Ndebunze


Ndebunze, or Ndichie, are the deceased ancestors deified into Alusi. In Odinani, it is believed that the dead ancestors are invisible members of the community; their role in the community, in conjunction with Ala, is to protect the community from epidemics and strife such as famine and small pox.[4]
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Owumiri/Idemili (Lady of the waters)- Mami Wata


For the Igbo peoples of southeastern Nigeria, the name "Mami Wata" refers to a specific water spirit and to a "school" of indigenous water spirits with specific local names and attributes. Such water deities, related to, yet separate from, a vast pantheon of gods and goddesses (agbara), are considered "free spirits" who exist outside the public cult system (Cole 1982:62). Mami Wata works with diviners and priest/healers helping clients with physical and psychological ailments. She also intervenes in money matters, since she is thought to have "been brought by white men, whom people believe to have endless supplies of paper money and coins" (Cole 1982:64-5; see also Cole and Aniakor 1984:75-7, 104-6; Jones 1984:89).

A mask honoring spiritual forces in the Igbo cosmos depicts Mami Wata with three Christian images (Fig. 25): Jesus on the cross, a robed priest or saint, and a Madonna-like figure. Such juxtapositions recall conversations I had with Mami Wata devotees in 1975 and 1978. One Igbo woman related that Mami Wata was a Christian and compared the preparation of a church altar with its candles, flowers, statues, incense, and chromolithographs to that of a Mami Wata shrine. Alphonsius Njoku, a Mami Wata priest and healer, explained the presence of a Madonna and Child print in his shrine by asserting that Mami Wata was a Christian. When I asked what type of Christian, he replied that she belongs to "every church, she is nondenominational." (14) Another priestess--who, while in a trance, sang a song evocative of a Christian hymn to me in a mixture of Igbo and pidgin English--remarked that Mami Wata was a Christian and "beat" those who failed to go to church. (15) Before the 1980s, Mami Wata very much resembled a Catholic saint to her devotees, and these masks, probably carved in the 1950s or 1960s, visualize local religious and ideological debates, dialogues, and negotiations of a particular era (see Elleh forthcoming for a discussion of these religious contestations and their impact on Mami Wata icons). The Igbo's northeastern neighbors, the Ejagham, borrowed Mami's image to signify their own spiritual entities for local purposes (Fig. 26).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Maiden Spirits



Agbogho Mmuo, or Maiden Spirits are masquerades performed annually during the dry season in the Nri-Awka area in the northern part of the Igbo peoples ethnic territory. These masks, strictly performed by men, imitate the character of an adolescent girl, exaggerating the girls' beauty and movements. The performance is always accompanied by musicians who sing and play tributes to both real and spirit maidens.

These masks showcase an ideal image of an Igbo maiden. This ideal is made up by the smallness of a young girl’s features and the whiteness of her complexion, which is an indication that the mask is a spirit. This whiteness is created using a chalk substance used for ritually marking the body in both West Africa and the African Diaspora. The chalky substance is also used in uli design, created and exhibited on the skin of Igbo women. Most maiden spirit mask are decorated with representations of hair combs, and other objects, modeled after late 19th century ceremonial hairstyles. These hairstyles include elaborate coiffures and crests which intend to add beauty to the mask.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
i completely disagree with the depiction of ala as a human (it's the earth, it literally means ground/earth) because it takes away from the meaning.

ani isn't an entity seperate from the earth, it literally is the earth and the acknowledgement that the earth is alive.
Take it up with your ancestors then.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Anywanwu

Alusi of the Sun

Various depictions of Anyanwu




Anyanwu (Igbo: Eye of the Sun) is an Igbo deity that is believed to dwell in the sun. Anyanwu was one of the principal spirits for the Igbo, often associated with Agbala, the holy spirit as they both dwelled in the sun. This deity was seen as the perfect image of what a human should be.[1]

Amongst Ndi Igbo, the Sun was referred to as Anyanwu (An-yan-wew). This is a combination of two different words. The first word, anya means eye. The second word, anwu, means light. Together, the phrase reads as “eye of light.”

Anywanu played a very large role in life of the Umunri. “Nri people believed that the sun was the dwelling place of Anyanwu (The God of Light and Agbala (The Holy Spirit). They believed Agbala to be the collective spirit of all holy beings (human and nonhuman). The Holy Spirit was a perfect agent of Chi-Ukwu or Chineke (The big God or the Creator God). The Holy Spirit chose its human and nonhuman agents only by their merit. It knew no politics. It transcended religion and culture, and of course, gender. It worked with the humble and truthful. They believed Anyanwu, the Light, to be the symbol of human perfection that all must seek. Anyanwu was perfection and Agbala was entrusted to lead us there.”

Nri is said to be responsible for the development of the Ozo title system, the artifacts of Igbo Ukwu, the cult of Ikenga, the creation of the Ofo stick, amongst many other things. Anywanu played a very large role in life of the Umunri. “Nri people believed that the sun was the dwelling place of Anyanwu (The God of Light and Agbala (The Holy Spirit). They believed Agbala to be the collective spirit of all holy beings (human and nonhuman). The Holy Spirit was a perfect agent of Chi-Ukwu or Chineke (The big God or the Creator God). The Holy Spirit chose its human and nonhuman agents only by their merit. It knew no politics. It transcended religion and culture, and of course, gender. It worked with the humble and truthful. They believed Anyanwu, the Light, to be the symbol of human perfection that all must seek. Anyanwu was perfection and Agbala was entrusted to lead us there.” (Anuobi, Chikodi. Nri Warriors of Peace. Page 210).

Anyanwu and Agbala by Odera Igbokwe

Nri people were so serious about their veneration of Anyanwu, that they would wear it on their faces. This facial scarification was called ichi. “In standard Nri scarification, the artist would carve the first line to run from the center of the forehead down to the center of the chin. They would then carve a second line to run across the face, from the right cheek to the left. The second line met the first at the center of the nose, making it a perfect cross. The second cross was drawn with one line running from the left side of the forehead down to the right side of the chin and another line running down the opposite direction. This sequence and pattern was repeated until the pattern looked like the rays of the sun. Altogether, it took sixteen straight lines, eight crosses, for a full face scarification that mirrored the rays of the sun. It was their way of honoring the sun that they worshiped. But it was more than that. It was the face and service and another way of losing one’s facial personality.” (Anuobi, Chikodi. Nri Warriors of Peace. Page 203-204).

Anyanwu bestows many gifts to people. One gift is the one of sight. When the sun is out, things that were once in darkness are brought to light. This is meant both in the physical as well as metaphysical sense. Darkness is often used to symbolize something that is hidden or unknown, while light in this sense represents something that has been revealed.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
:lol: Igbo people sha

On the other hand, their relationships with the other Gods and Goddesses are of a different nature, they have what we will call a contractual agreement between equals, which the Igbo think of as hiring a God or Goddess.

They are hired as messengers and negotiators, and if a God or Goddess can be hired, they can be fired. No matter what his or her status is in the Holy Family, with the exception of IGWE, ALA, and EKWENSU.

The Igbo believe in ritual results. If they send a God or Goddess to CHINEKE, IGWE, or ALA with a message for something they want, and if they do not get it. they blame the messenger God or Goddess for being poor negotiators and send him or her back to try again.

And if they still do not get positive results, they fire the messenger God or Goddess, take his or her shrine to the edge of their territory, cuss them out, and burn the shrine.

Then, they seek another messenger, and send him or her with the same message. In other words, any God or Goddess who can successfully negotiate with CHINEKE, is the God or Goddess of choice for ritual worship and sacrifices.

On the one hand, this means that the Igbo have two major forces in their religious beliefs, ALA (Social Equality), and IGWE (Personal Freedom); and everything else flows from those beliefs.

On the other hand, the other Gods and Goddesses, for the most part, have the role of lawyer-messenger. This also means that the Igbo, with two exceptions, never take no for an answer from anybody.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Story about Ikenga:
According to Ndi Ichie Akwa Mythology and Folklore Origins of the Igbos, Ikenga was the son of Ngwu, and was a bold warrior and fantastic wrestler. He was reputed with the ability of flying from one Iroko tree to another. He was the first living man in living memory to earn the title Ogba Aka Ele Oje which meant a climber of ikoro tree without the aid of strings. Ikenga lead the Nkwo nation in the first and famous river of sea battle ever undertaken by any nation in the Oji country. Mermaids came to fight for the Edo people and many Ododo warriors rode on the backs of mammoth sharks and crocodiles. Edo herbalists had the power to conjure large stones to fly and ram on the buildings of the Nkwo nations to destruction. The war was intense and lasted one month. For the first time, the use of green foliage camouflage was introduced by Ikenga and his warriors so that they appeared as floating bushes on the seas, until they came close enough on their targets to rout the Edo and Ododo enemies.

Many of the will-o-wisps sent by Edo country were destroyed. When the Edo and Odo warriors saw that they were being defeated and were forced to retreat back to their territories they made a final desperate lunge to grab the only Ndi Ichi Akwa in Ngwu's possession. Ikenga rallied around his father's palace to repulse Ododo and Edo stalwarts. Many casualties were sustained by both sides until Ikenga came face to face with the four eyed monster called Ajikwu akpu isi who had six horns.

Ajikwu akpu isi belowed out his fearsome shriek which thundered through the jungle in repeated echos that the verdue quivered in ominous pulses. The monster roused his fierce rage by scampering round his position as a means of revving up his momentum and sharpening a deadly attacking pulse. The vibrations burgeoned into a nauseating earthquake in the area. He mixed his excrement with urine and splashed the corrosive mixture in Ikenga's direction. Ikenga used his ekpeke shield and in a series of athletic diving and feigning withered the ferocious onslaught. In the same split second however Ajikwu akpu isi had charged towards Ikenga as he snorted and roared. Ikenga sprang onto an overhead tree branch like a huge cat and somersaulted round it to suspend atop on his hands like an acrobatic gymnast.

As Ajikwu akpu isi thundered underneath in his charge, but missed Ikenga's backside by centimeters, Ikenga flung himself on the top horns of the monster. The two combatants hurtled through jungle flora and fauna in mortal battle. Ikenga mustered the last gram of strength in a titanic muscle flex as he twisted the neck of the beast which broke with such nerve shattering crack. There were few groans and whimperings followed by death thrubs and ghostly silence pervaded the vast jungle. The Edo and Ododo warriors were stupefied by the incredible spectacle and in a momentary recovery they retreated in disarray.[11]
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Various photos :)
Ala, Goddess of the Earth




MAMY WATA

PROUD MAMY WATA WITH HER LONG RINGED "RAINBOW" NECK, AN ATTRIBUTEOF BEAUTY AMONG OWERRI IBO. IT IS NOT INCONSISTENT FOR THIS TRADITIONAL GODDESS TO WEAR A CHRISTIAN CROSS. IN THE MBARI TO ALA AT EGBELU OBUBE. ARTIST: NNAJI.
Mbari House

The author with the priest-in-charge of the Mbari house at Ulakwọ, January, 1935. The priest, as will be noticed, is a dwarf.
Ritual Calabash


Sacrifice to Agwu

Agwu is the Alusi of Dibia ('medicine men').
A Medicine Man with his Stock in Trade


Ancestor worship

WORSHIP OF ANCESTORS NZE, ỌFỌ AND IKẸṄGA (ONI[CH]A OLONA).
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Mbari Houses
Mbari houses of the Owerri-Igbo, which are large opened-sided square planned shelters, are examples of Igbo architecture. They house many life-sized, painted figures (sculpted in mud to appease the Alusi (deity) and Ala, the earth goddess, with other deities of thunder and water). Other sculptures are of officials, craftsmen, foreigners (mainly Europeans), animals, legendary creatures and ancestors. Mbari houses take years to build and building them is regarded as sacred, therefore new ones are constructed and old ones are left to decay.
Decorations of Mbari Houses









Mbari Layout
 
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