Usage African Mythology
Other Forms FormsObàtálá, Obatalá, Osala, Oshala, Oxalá, Orisala, Orishala, Orixalá
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Meaning & History
In the religion of the Yoruba people, Obàtálá is the creator of human bodies, which were supposedly brought to life by Olorun's breath. Obàtálá is also the owner of all ori or heads. Any orisha may lay claim to an individual, but until that individual is initiated into the priesthood of that orisha, Obàtálá still owns that head. This stems from the belief that the soul resides in the head. Obatala (king of White Cloth) is said to be the Olorun's second son, by others to be merely one of Olorun's favorite Orisha. He is the one authorized by Olorun to create land over the water beneath the sky, and it is he who founds the first Yoruba city, Ife. Obatala is Olorun's representative on earth and the shaper of human beings. He is known to some Yoruba as Orisha-Nla or Olufon.