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Susanne Wenger: in front of Ìyá Mọòpó

1970s / 1980s

Adunni Olorisha Trust / Adunni Osun Foundation

Adunni Olorisha Trust / Adunni Osun Foundation
Osogbo, Nigeria

In this photograph, likely taken in the late seventies or early eighties, Susanne Wenger, visionary artist and priestess, is shown walking at Ẹbu Ìyá Mọòpó, the Sacred Potter Field.
Ìyá 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 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 ẹdan (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 forty 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.

Details

  • Title: Susanne Wenger: in front of Ìyá Mọòpó
  • Date Created: 1970s / 1980s
  • Location Created: The Sacred Ọ̀ṣun Groves, Òṣogbo, Nigeria
  • Original Source: Adunni Olorisha Trust/ Osun Foundation
  • Photographer: Gert Chesi
  • Date of photography: 1978

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