IÌyá Mọòpó, often called the “Great Mother” and mystic potter woman is the patroness of women in all aspects of their life – from bearing and caring for children to all their professions and trades.
This majestic sculpture and shrine is more than 14 meters high and over 60 meters long. This majestic sculpture and shrine is more than fourteen meters high and over sixty meters long. ‘Ìyá Mọòpó’s turns her face up the Heaven, which she supports (òpó pillar)’. (A Life with the Gods, Susanne Wenger/Gert Chesi, 1983, page 153).
She extends three pairs of slender outstretched arms: ‘one to receive, one to throw out sacred fecundities, and one in the Ògbóni fist-over-fist symbol-gesture’. (A Life with the Gods, Susanne Wenger / Gert Chesi, 1983, page 140). The six arms also gesture blessings, advice and regrets and represent the goddess’ multiple divine functions.
Ìyá Mọòpó’s ‘ancient image is an edon (sacred bronze casting) in which she holds two children close to herself.’ (A life with the Gods, Susanne Wenger/Gert Chesi, 1983, page 140)
Here they are represented as birds – “atíálá-àtíòro” (Allied hornbill, Lophoceros Semifasciatus, bird epiphany of Ọbàtálá) one on her breast and the other hangs upside down on her back; some say that they are her messengers. Her massive, outstretched wings represent the ethereal dimension of matter.
The folds of her traditional cloth or “wrapper” are represented by delicate swirls of sculpted cement and her outstretched legs are almost 40 meters in length. Ìyá Mọòpó reclines on a beautiful mosaic (by Adebisi Akanji) made from stones collected from the Ọ̀ṣun riverbed. Her dye pots rest at the base of the Shrine and on the inside is a spiral staircase in the shape of the sacred snail shell.
Then again, the first sign of damage to this exceptional sculpture was the collapsed legs in 2008. As the restoration proceeded in 2012, it became clear that water damage had weakened the entire structure and almost every element required rebuilding. Thanks to the leadership of Sangodare Ajala and artistry of Adebisi Akanji as well as the New Sacred Art Restoration team, this exceptional work of art was saved.