Showcasing the art and ritual of the African and African-diaspora religions

Ensemble for the Santería/Ocha God Inle

Catalog Number: B277


Artesanía Yoruba (630 E. 4th Ave., Hialeah, Florida 33010, 305 318 3989), made by Adys Álvarez


Necklace: 79.0" (circumference); tassel: 14.0"; bead: 1.27" 
2,006.6 mm; tassel: 355.60 mm; bead: 32.30 mm

Rattle: 19.0" x 3.82" x 3.82" 
482.6 mm x 97.15 mm x 97.15 mm

Harpoon: 57.75" x 1.87" x 2.10" 
1,466.85 mm x 47.56 mm x 53.39 mm

Religion and Denomination: Ocha (Cuba, Yoruba)
Transatlantic Family of Religion: Orisha
Country of Origin: China
Ethnographic Origin: Caribbean
Materials: Glass
Usage: Ritual (used)
Detailed Description of Significance:

Item B277 is an unusually elaborate ensemble of ritual paraphernalia for a priest being consecrated to the god Inle, the aquatic counterpart of Ochosi, the terrestrial god of the hunt. Inle is also regarded as a physician god, overlapping in expertise with Osain, the god of herbs and of herbal medicine. The name “Inle” is related to that of the Yoruba god Erinle—an aquatic hunter and healer whose name literally means “Elephant of the Earth.” He is not among the most widely worshiped of West African Yoruba or of Cuba Ocha gods.


This ensemble includes a harpoon (dramatizing Inle’s association with fishing and other forms of aquatic hunting), a maraca used in saluting him at his altar, and a collar de mazo (“bunched necklace,” or elaborate bead necklace that will be among the 5 or so similarly elaborate necklaces worn by an intiand of the “middle day,” or third day, of the initiation, when the new priest will first be presented to the public. Over the subsequent years, this necklace will normally adorn the soup-tureen altar of the initiate’s god. This particular necklace for Inle features elaborate Chinese metal-and-glass-enamel goldfish pendants on the tassels of the central and most elaborate moña (tilde over the n), or bunch of strands. See p.190 of David Brown’s book Santería Enthroned (2003) for an illustration of the named parts of a collar de mazo. Like the hat on B094,rhe beading motif at the top of the maraca is square. Maybe that unusual shape is iconic of Inle.


B277 was crafted by Ms. Adys Álvarez of Artesanía Yoruba, a workshop and store formerly located in Miami, FL. The shop is now closed. This shop, in prioritizing quality over economy, used Bohemian, rather than Chinese, glass beads. They two craftswomen regarded Bohemian beads as more regular in size and shape.

Maraca: Maraca de Inle

Necklace: Mazo de Inle

Harpoon: Arpón de Inle

Catalogued by Annabelle Yang:

This is an ensemble for Inle, consisting of a maraca, harpoon, and necklace. They are patterned in his emblematic colors of turquoise and pink. Yellow beads striped with red and green, as well as beads of jet, also comprise important colors for the orixá, and those colors can be found in this ensemble as well. The maraca is employed to salute Inle at his altar, and features a square beading at the top – perhaps this is a motif reserved for Inle, as a similarly square hat adorns Inle in a statue of him that will be presented next. The harpoon recalls Inle’s status as a fisherman – in this capacity, he is also a provider, said to come to the aid of his followers in drought and famine.


Finally, the necklace, or collar de mazo, is an intricate beaded necklace that would be worn by initiands to the orixá, as they are presented to the public on the third, or “middle” day of the process. The initiation rites of Inle, however, must be performed by grace of the ashé of the sea goddess Yemayá – Inle does not speak for himself, and it is Yemayá who answers for him during the dilogún, or cowrie shell divination. In some stories, Inle and Yemayá were lovers, before Inle fell for the orixá Oshún. Yemayá cursed him to silence, rendering Inle dependent upon her. In other stories, Yemayá, in her passion for Inle, herself dragged him to the bottom of the sea and cut out his tongue to prevent him from sharing the mysteries of the depths.


After initiation, the collar de mazo would be presented to Inle on a soup tureen altar. In another aquatic reference, Chinese metal and glass enamel goldfish adorn the ends of the beaded tassels on both the collar de mazo and the maraca. The beads themselves, however, are Bohemian rather than Chinese – the Yoruba artisans, who ran a shop in Miami, preferred such beads as higher in quality due to their greater regularity in size and shape. In addition to glass beads, Inle’s sacred objects are also frequently adorned with expensive red coral, gold, and jet, and even jade, revealing the wealth of the orixá and the incorporation of Chinese influences in Lucumí practice.