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Osanyin / Ossaim the Yoruba deity of healing in Nigeria and Brazil: a comparative study

Sobo, Abayomi O. (2001) Osanyin / Ossaim the Yoruba deity of healing in Nigeria and Brazil: a comparative study. Masters thesis, Durham University.



In Nigeria Osanyin and in Brazil Ossaim is the Yoruba deity of healing credited with all knowledge of herbs, leaves and roots for medicinal purposes. The myths of origin, history and religious beliefs of the Yoruba of south west Nigeria were carried by the slaves across to the Americas and the Caribbean. It is said that in Bahia, Brazil the Yoruba religion is at its truest (Herskovits and Herskovits, 1943). The religion is passed down through generations to this day albeit with minor modifications due to the influence of the Catholic religion. This factor has maintained a continuity in space and time with the original cult. To the Yoruba, health is a state in which there is a blending of physical, mental, emotional social moral and spiritual well-being. To achieve this harmony they resort to divination to find out the cause of and remedy for their illness. The traditional healers fall into four groups and of these the diviner/herbalist meet the needs of anyone who is ill by providing both diagnosis and medication. Among this group are the Olpsanyin who diagnose and provide the remedy through dialogue with the deity and the Osanyin who acquire the knowledge of herbs and the associated incantations through a system of apprenticeship. In Bahia, diagnosis is made through divination using sixteen cowries. The herbs are collected by the Babaloxa under whose watchful eyes the medications are prepared. The Yoruba celebrate the festival of Osanym annually either individually or collectively in the town, led by the head of the cult and the Oba. In Bahia, the festival of Ossaim is held at the same time as that of the other orixa. Giddens' (1979) theory of structuration is applied to elucidate how the system is reproduced; how knowledge is transmitted and why the activities associated with the cult remain in demand in the modem age.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2001
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Sep 2012 15:46

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