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

Resin Statue of the Afro-Cuban God Inle

Catalog Number: B094


Chinese manufacturer


4.76" x 9.63" x 14.88" 
120.90 mm x 244.68 mm x 378 mm

Transatlantic Family of Religion: Orisha
Country of Origin: China
Ethnographic Origin: Caribbean
Materials: Felt
Date of Manufacture: 03/2014
Usage: Ritual (non-yet-used)
Detailed Description of Significance:

Catalogued by Annabelle Yang:

This is a resin statue of Inle, the aquatic oricha of healing and counterpart to the terrestrial hunter, Ochosi. His West African counterpart is also known as Erinle, which in Yoruba means “Elephant of the Earth.” His head is adorned with a woven pointed hat, perhaps of Chinese influence – the blue-tinted eyes of the statue combined with its copper skin, indeed, perhaps indicate a certain unfamiliar with more Western and African-descended physical characteristics. This green, along with the green of the pants, harpoon, hat, and snakes, could also be intended to reflect Inle’s sacred turquoise color. The short pants themselves, much like the earlier seen collar de mazo, would be worn during initiation ceremonies on the middle day. Again, Inle’s aquatic nature is emphasized through the carp ihanging from a chain in his right hand and the harpoon in his left. Furthermore, he appears to be rising out of a body of salt water. The snakes wrapping themselves around Inle’s body recall the caduceus, or staff of Hermes, the Greek messenger god, a symbol that is conflated in the iconography of contemporary Western medicine with staff of the Greek god of healing Asclepius and the Roman god of healing Aesculapius, or Hepius. Today, a staff emerging from these multiple Greco-Roman iconographies is employed as a symbol of the medical profession and, in modified form, of barbershops. Such iconography is appropriate for the Inle the “divine doctor,” who is credited with helping the oricha of divination, Orula, when he was dying of thirst in the desert. Inle is thus closely connecte with Orula and Ifá divination, which is governed by Orula. Orula and Inle require each other’s cooperation. Furthermore, Inle is said to have aided Cuban children during Spanish colonial rule by creating a remedy of river water and plant oils for their cholera. In doing so, he marked the children as his and Orula’s devotees.


The iconography of the god recalls that of the Catholic Saint Raphael, or Raphael the Archangel, with whom Inle is often identified in his capacity as a physician. According to the Book of Tobit, part of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox canon, Raphael helps Tobit to evade a fish that would have swallowed him and Tobit uses the fish to craft medicines that ward off demons and cure the blindness of Tobit’s father.