The Evocative Powers of Yorùbá Art: Archetypal Representations of Ejò (Snake) and Ẹyẹ (Bird)
This paper discusses two Yorùbá emblematic forms, the snake (ejò) and the bird (ẹyẹ), which are mostly used and referred to as decorative motifs for the embellishment of bare spaces on different Yorùbá art genres. Although the forms have received enriching scholarly attention, they have mostly been treated undeservingly as motifs rather than icons. The present study employs the theories of iconography and iconology to investigate the representations and connotations of the snake and the bird in Yorùbá art. The study gathered existing scholarly submissions on the representations and the symbolisms of these forms and then interrogate the odu Ifa to establish that the forms of ejò and ẹyẹ are cultural icons in their own right. The paper also submits that the historical familiarity of the Yorùbá people with ejò and ẹyẹ,likethe animals in their geographical environment and their mythological association with these animals, have formed the basis of their iconological awareness.
Keywords: Yorùbá, forms, ejò, ẹyẹ, iconology, odù-Ifá, snake, bird, motifs, art