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

Tools for the Altar of Yemayá Mayeleo

Catalog Number: B317


2.71" x 1.33" x 0.14" 
55.15 mm x 33.83 mm x 3.52 mm

ship wheel: 
2.89" x 2.93" x 0.16" 
73.42 mm x 74.33 mm x 4.09 mm

nail (2): 
2.99" x 0.24" x 0.17" 
75.91 mm x 6.20 mm x 4.33 mm

4.02" x 0.82" x 0.22" 
102.22 mm x 20.91 mm x 5.58 mm

1.79" x 1.54" x 0.30" 
50.10 mm x 39.19 mm x 7.51 mm

sail boat: 
1.60" x 1.14" x 0.11" 
40.73 mm x 28.92 mm x 2.76 mm

plates (7): 
2.95" x 0.39" 
75 mm x 10 mm

1.79" x 0.97" x 2.05" 
45.33 mm x 24.64 mm x 52.09 mm

2.13" x 1.94" x 0.23" 
54.14 mm x 49.28 mm x 5.85 mm

2.92" x 0.57" x 0.04" 
74.08 mm x 14.49 mm x 1.84 mm

2.20" x 1.38" x 0.05" 
55.90 mm x 35.07 mm x 1.37 mm

Religion and Denomination: Ocha (Cuba, Yoruba)
Transatlantic Family of Religion: Orisha
Country of Origin: India
Ethnographic Origin: Caribbean
Materials: Chrome
Usage: Ritual (non-yet-used)
Detailed Description of Significance:

An altar for an oricha god contains tools called, in Spanish, herramientas, or “tools,” associated with skills or powers of the principal god and with the gods allied to them. These tools are for a camino, or “avatar,” of Yemayá called Mayeleo–apparently from the “Májẹlẹ́wù,” a praise-name (oríkì) of the cognate West African goddess Yemọja. According to Iya Ọ̀shun Òshogbo, Talabi Adedoyin Faniyi (12/22/16), this praise-name is associated with the third odù, or “chapter,” of the 16-cowry divination system.  This chapter is called Ogbè Gúndá or Ogbè Yọ́nú, which recounts the story of how Yemọja became a river.  As a precondition to their marriage Yemọja and the Ọ̀kẹ̀rẹ̀, or King, of the town of Shakí promised to obey each other’s taboos.  Yemọj’a’s taboo was that no one should insult her with reference to her large breasts.  The King’s taboo was that no rain should fall upon his empowering “medicines.”  However, one day when the King was away and he had left his “medicines” outside to dry, the rain fell and Yemọja failed to bring them in.  When the King returned, he insulted her with reference to her breasts, whereupon she gathered up her children and her pots and ran away.  Chased by a mob, she fell down, and the river that bears her name issued forth from her breasts or her pots.

The sailboat, the oars, and the ship’s wheel all demonstrate her dominion over water. The paintbrush corresponds to her history as the oricha who painted the seas blue.  The mirror may evoke this goddess’s own vanity or refer to that of Ochún, goddess of sweet water.  The scales represent the association of this avatar of the goddess with businesses and the marketplace. This avatar of the goddess lives in a basket surrounded by plates. The machete and axe embody the skills and powers for her husband Oggún, the lord of war and iron. According to some sources, this avatar of the goddess wears a mask and keeps a snake.  The mask is also associated with her daughter-in-law Ollá, the goddess of wind and storm, and the snake with her husband Obatalá, the lord of creation and purity.