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

Sword (Alfanje) for Obatalá

Catalog Number: B019


21.5 inches


Religion and Denomination: Santería (Cuba, Yoruba)
Ethnographic Origin: Cuban (Caribbean)
Materials: Beads
Usage: N/A
Detailed Description of Significance:

This mostly white and red sword for Obatalá is a decorative object used to symbolize him. The oricha Obatalá, often considered the father of all Orichas, is a merciful, wise and calm Lucumí divinity responsible for creating the human body before birth and charged with overseeing all the other divinities’ activities.

The white on the sword, Obatalá’s color, is representative of all things clean and pure. As such, sons of Obatalá often wear immaculate white to please him and also to protect themselves because it often indicated that Obatalá throws his white mantle over them so that evil cannot inflict harm. White is also most appropriate for Obatalá as it contains all the colors of the rainbow yet is above them. Furthermore the handle of the sword has 8 hanging strings of beads, which is significant to Obatalá, as his number is also 8.