Elephant Tusks Evolved From Teeth = Giving The Species An          Evolutionary Advantage.

Ivory is an Elephant hard, white material from the Tusks – Elephant & Teeth of animals, that can be used in art or manufacturing. The chemical structure of the Teeth & Tusks of mammals is the same, regardless of the species of origin. The trade in certain Teeth & Tusks other than Elephant is well established and widespread; therefore, “Ivory” can correctly be used to describe any mammalian Teeth or Tusks of commercial interest which are large enough to be carved. Elephant Ivory is the most important source, but Ivory from hippopotamus, sperm whale, killer whale & warthog are used as well. Elk also have two Ivory Teeth, which are believed to be the remnants of Tusks from their Ancestors.

Both the Greek and Roman civilizations practiced Ivory carving to make large quantities of high value works of art, precious religious objects, and decorative boxes for costly objects. Ivory was often used to form the white of the eyes of statues. Elephant populations were reduced to extinction, probably due to the demand for Ivory in the Classical world.

The Chinese have long valued Ivory for both art and utilitarian objects. Chinese craftsmen carved Ivory to make everything from images of deities to the pipe stems and end pieces of opium pipes. Prior to the introduction of plastics, Ivory had many ornamental and practical uses, mainly because of the white color it presents when processed. It was formerly used to make cutlery handles, billiard balls, piano keys, buttons and a wide range of ornamental items…

Ivory can be taken from dead animals – however, most Ivory came from Elephants that were killed for their tusks. Kenyan Elephant herds were devastated because of demand for Ivory, to be used for piano keys. Owing to the rapid decline in the populations of the animals that produce it, the importation and sale of Ivory in many countries is banned or severely restricted. Since the Ivory ban, some African countries have claimed their Elephant populations are stable or increasing, and argued that Ivory sales would support their conservation efforts. The use and trade of Elephant Ivory have become controversial because they have contributed to seriously declining Elephant populations in many countries.

A species of hard nut is gaining popularity as a replacement for Ivory, although its size limits its usability. It is sometimes called vegetable Ivory, and is the seed endosperm of the Ivory nut palm commonly found in coastal rainforests of Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.

Why do Elephants have Ivory Tusks = Elephant Tusks evolved from Teeth, giving the species an evolutionary advantage. They serve a variety of purposes: digging, lifting objects, gathering food, stripping bark from trees to eat, and defense. The Tusks also protect the trunk—another valuable tool for drinking, breathing, and eating, among other uses. Just as humans are left or right handed, Elephants, too, are left tusked or right tusked. The dominant Tusk is usually more worn down from frequent use. Both Male and Female African Elephants have tusks, while only Male Asian Elephants, and only a certain percentage of Males today, have Tusks.   


** Falsehood Of Elephant ** At one time Orunmila – Ifa befriended Elephant and went to the forest with him. They did any kind of work to get money, but Orunmila – Ifa was not as powerful as Elephant and could not endure the hardships as well. They worked in the forest for three years; but when they returned, Orunmila – Ifa had earned only enough money to buy one white cloth.

On their way home, Orunmila – Ifa asked Elephant to hold the cloth while he went into the bush to relieve himself. Elephant did; but when Orunmila returned, Elephant had swallowed it. When Orunmila – Ifa asked for it, Elephant denied he had ever been given it! A great dispute arose between them and continued as they walked along the road. Finally they came to the crossroad, where they parted, Orunmila – Ifa going on the road Ado without his cloth, and Elephant going to Alo.

On the road to Ado, Orunmila – Ifa met Hunter (Ogun), who said he was going to hunt Elephants. Orunmila – Ifa told him that he knew where he could find Elephant, and directed him along the road to Alo. He said he would meet an Elephant and kill it, and that when he cut it open, he would find a white cloth, which he should bring back to him. Hunter (Ogun) went along the road, met Elephant and killed him. When he cut Elephant open, he found the white cloth inside. He returned the cloth, with an elephant’s tusk as a gift, to Orunmila-Ifa. Because of the falsehood of Elephant, Orunmila-Ifa and the Diviners use the tusk of an Elephant as Iroke. And since that time, any hunter (Ogun) who kills an Elephant must take the Tusk to a Diviner.   (Ogbe-Okanran)


The little Ivory clappers set in the end of these tappers are rattled to invoke the spirits, then the diviner takes the heavy end and gently strikes the divining board with the pointed end murmuring prayers and chants inviting the spirits and the god Eshu to be present and hear the prayers.

Ifa was a spirit often identified with a deity called Orunmila (heaven knows salvation) and it is he who directed creation under orders from God. He was believed to be a great linguist knowing all the tongues of earth and heaven and was able to advise men of every nation mediating and interceding with the gods on their behalf. The divination is performed by casting sacred palm nuts in a combination of four and sixteen and marking a pattern on the divining board, which is then read by the priest.

“As part of a ritual carried out to predict the future,  Diviners beat tappers such as this against special Trays – Opon Ifá and while praying, singing sacred music and incantations. The sound is meant to attract the attention of the deities and  Orunmila – Ifa, the deity associated with divination.”

At the beginning of a divination session and at other moments in the rhythmic movement of the ritual a priest of Ifa will gently tap the point of his tapper ‘Iroke’  against the edge of his divination board. He does this to invoke the attention of Orisha Orunmila – Ifa the deity who was present at creation and who knows the personal destiny of all Men and Women. Among the Yoruba the use of Ivory was the privilege of persons of high rank, especially those whose spiritual powers affected the lives of others. Ivory was the privilege of Kings, of the elders of the secret Ogboni society and of Ifa priests.

The divination tapper (Iroke Ifa) is an essential tool for Yoruba diviners, used to initiate the Ifa divination ritual by invoking the God of fate, Orunmila. By attracting Orunmila’s attention through this action and through the tapper’s pleasing visual form, he opens the necessary channels of communication with the spirit world.

* Importance of Irukere *

Irukere fly whisk is made of animal hair skin, especially Cow Tail. The strands of hair, which may be white or black, has a stick within and are fastened by a leather handle or in some cases rubber. It is decorated with beads of different colors.  When a prayer is being said by the king, the Irukere is being whisked and it is part of the clothing accessories of the  kings when they are out for occasions. 

 Irukere – Cow tail Switch (Odi Okanran)
“The palm tree at the crossroads is the one which feels the cutlass” and “Two people cannot sleep on a duiker hide” were the ones who cast Ifa for the Sea Goddess. The Sea Goddess did not sacrifice…
After a while, the Sea Goddess’ cow died, and she took the cow and laid it out just like a human corpse. She told her family to say that she had died, and she told them to call the diviners to come and divine, just as if she had really died. When the diviners came, they all cast Ifa, but not one of them chose the correct specific alternative; all the diviners said that following her death things would go well. Then the family of the Sea Goddess asked them if there was another diviner. They said that there was Tail. And they sent word to Tail that he should come. When Tail arrived, he cast his Ifa and declared that the Sea Goddess had not died, but that she had suffered a loss.
Then the Sea Goddess came out from where she had hidden herself; and she said that she would take Tail as her diviner because he had chosen the correct specific alternative. Tail named his sacrifice at once for the Sea Goddess. The Sea Goddess heard and made the sacrifice. Then she told the diviners that whenever they were going out to divine, they must bring Tail along with them. Since that time diviners always carry Tail with them.

IRUKERE AWONI: The Awoni use a special type of whisk made of a Ram’s beard with a handle an inch or more in diameter, whereas that of the ordinary diviner’s Cow Tail Switch is less than half an inch. When two Awoni meet in the street, they cross the handles of their whisks, with the handles pointing down, and exchange the greetings “Ogbedu” and “Ogbomurin.” Only the two highest ranking diviners, Araba and Agbonbon, are permitted to hold a Whisk in each hand when dancing.  

Importance of Irukere: Irukere is common among Yoruba people such as their Kings, Chiefs, Priests, and Traditional Dancers. Every Initiate of Ifa is happy to have an Irukere standing in their Ifa shrine to honor Orunmila. It is used by the priests to say opening prayers, chant, and give blessings. It is used during a sacrifice or consultations. Irukere is a prominent feature of an Ifa priest. According to the traditional belief, Irukere is not just a traditional tool, but a tool of power. It is an accessory for the Elders, Kings, Chiefs, Priests…  

Reference Sources: Wikipedia = Google Search/Photo = Awo Oyeyefa Alamu = Babalawo Obanifa = William Bascom =

3 thoughts on “*Iroke-Irukere*”

  1. Amazing article Sir, thank you for sharing such informative knowledge. I always look forward to postings. Blessing to you always.

  2. Aboru Aboye Baba, I’ve reading on your site but never left my email.
    Thanks for all the generous info you share. You fill such an important role and are very much appreciated. Glad to be your friend. Odabo

  3. Thank you for sharing this valuable information. I just retold the story to my young son and he loved it.

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