Obatala: Who is it? Paths and History of this Orisha


Obatala was a deified ancient Yoruba King. Son of olofi y Olodumare He is considered an Orisha of great importance and position. His spirituality represents the purest nature. It is said that he was entrusted with the mission of creating human beings but he drank a lot of palm wine and fell asleep, the commission being completed by the Orisha Oduduwá.

Who is Obatala?

His name “Obatalá"Has been translated as:" King of Purity "," Lord of the White Robes "," Lord of Visions ". It is also known by the name of "Orisa Nla " (the great Orisa) and as “Obaba Orugbo”(The old Father-King or the Elder Father). Similarly, his name can be broken down as: Oba-ti-ala. Oba = King, ti = of or similar to, wing = white, or border; that is to say: The King of whiteness or the King of the border (of the Yoruba territorial space). In Nigeria its name is means "the king who shines above all that exists ”, denoting his important authority. It is also known as Oba-ti-on'la, which means: the king is great.

Who is Obatala?

It is said that it came to earth through the Oddun Oshe Fun (isalaye). Obatala in Santeria symbolizes purity, owner of all heads, justice and health; he is also considered a judge of this religion. Master thoughts and dreams. In front of him rudeness and nudity are prohibited. The gray in the hair represents its presence. To refer to him the santeros usually call him: Baba which means: Father, being considered as "older", it always occupies the highest place in the basket.

It is understood through the Yoruba culture that Oloddumare created the divinities, but Orishanlá (name given to Obatala) was created especially to counteract the negative influences of Eshu on the rest of the Orishas, ​​which evidently endows him with an authority superior to the other divinities. It is considered then, as a generous African deity, but sacred and authoritative. He is the only saint that Eshu could not influence.

On the other hand, it is important to note that Obatalá is a Saint who intervenes by favoring the conception of children by infertile women and during gestation participates in molding the shape of all creatures in the womb. This is related to his attributions as a sculptor deity. Another interpretation of the presence of human beings with abnormal features on earth within the Yoruba religion considers it to be a way in which Obbatala reminds humans that they owe him their gratitude for having trained them properly. The Yoruba state that albinos, dwarfs, hunchbacks, and other people with notable physical defects are created in this way by the Orisha to make them sacred and have their special protection.

Obatala Features:

As Obatala is the Yoruba deity of purity, he is representative of the highest moral conception. Its meaning is rooted in the principles of justice, balance, equity, values, agreements, good relationships, beauty, artistic culture, refinement, autumn, diplomacy and contracts. 

Among its characteristics we find that the Obatala Tureen or receptacle It is white in color, usually a silver crown with 8 or 16 parrot feathers is placed (although four are usually used) and a horsetail (iruke) whose fur is white. Its sacred Otans (a foundation enshrined in its interior) do not admit the sun, the air or the serene. Obbatala's tools include: a sun and a moon, 2 handcuffs, a snake (majá), a silver hand that wields a scepter (paoye), 2 ivory or onyx eggs, cocoa butter, husk and cotton. A bell (agogó) and a white flag are placed on it. He owns La Ceiba (iroko).

Obatala soup tureen


Its basic color is white. Consequently so her necklace and her ilde (bracelet) It is also white in color and additional colored beads are interspersed according to its path. He always wears his color although we can see images of Obatala in his representation as a warrior who wears a red band across his chest. His path known as: Obamoro has ornaments and shades of purple. Or green ornaments if it is represented as Alaguema.


The dance of this Orisha when possessing a saint's horse in most of the opportunities imitates the gentle movements of an old man. In the cases of incorporating the youngest paths that identify him, such as: Obatala Ayaguna, he dances performing movements of a horseman brandishing a sword, using his hands to shake his white ponytail, cleaning the paths and those present.

Day on which it is celebrated:

Obatala day or its allegorical celebration inherited from syncretism is usually commemorated on September 24.


Obatalá's number is 8 and its multiples.

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History of Obatala in the Oddun Ogunda Meyi

History of Obatala

When Orishanlá cursed the Palo Mayombe

In this way Obbatala curses Ogun and Palo Mayombe, motivated by the wars and witchcraft that he and Shango did with Congos garments, since they kept working in the Conga land, which bordered the Yoruba land.

The Yoruba went to Obatala to complain because their ogú (witchcraft) was killing many people in their land. Shango, upon learning that Obatala was already aware of what was happening, quickly withdrew, but Ogún did not give it importance and continued doing his thing. Baba and Osain they approached him and cursed him, along with the practice of Palo Mayombe.

Orisa Nla

Despite this curse, people continued to die, so Odi Bara came to arrest Ogun and all those who were doing witchcraft and later, in the company of Osain, they gave Obbatala iwereyeye to eat, removing the curse from his mouth.

What are Obatala's children like?

sons of Obatala

Obatala's children stand out for being charismatic, skilled in interpersonal relationships, they are collaborative, sociable, and refined. They can present artistic sensitivity, they care about others, they highly value their partners. They tend to have a great aesthetic sense, kind and pacifying. Normally, their hair is gray or gray after being consecrated to their guardian angel. On the other hand, they can develop at the other extreme characteristics of indecision, be fickle, frivolous, variable, influenceable, superficial, flirtatious, lazy, indolent, afraid to compromise, they can become problematic people and eager to attract attention at any cost, besides being crazy.

How to attend Obatala?

In Santeria, Obatalá can be entertained by offering him adimuses such as: yams in all their presentations, milk, cocoa butter, husks, cotton, honey, sandy fruits such as soursop, sugar apple, pomegranate and sapote, all white fruits and vegetables . You are also offered fresh water or coconut water, candles and white flowers.

How to attend Obatala?

Among the dishes that are cooked are: all kinds of white rice preparations, meringue tower, milk custard, rice pudding, white squash, champola (soursop smoothie), white grains. All their meals are prepared without salt. Goats, pigeons, roosters, chickens, guineas, all white in color, are immolated. Slugs and snails.

The main taboos or prohibitions for Orishanlá are: palm wine, corn beer, palm kernel oil, pepper, salt, melon, reddish palm oil (corojo butter), red meat, black fabrics, stale water, the dog and the pig; the woman during the menstrual period cannot manipulate her attributes and the masks should not adorn her altar.

Herbs (Ewe) of Obbatala

A wide variety of herbs are attributed to it, among which we can highlight: white pigweed, atiponlá or tostón, terrestrial caltrop, earth holly, roost, barberry, aguedita, white aguinaldo, garlic, clove basil, cotton, almond tree, guanaba, rice, mugwort, saffron, bell, canutillo, coralillo blanco, custard apple, diamela, scourer, gallant by day, earth jasmine, marigold, aknot, tamarind, clover, prickly pear, yagruma, milky grass.

Roads of Obatala

Roads of Obatala

It is said that there is a great variety of Obbatala roads, in which it is represented in a feminine and masculine way. An example of them is:


Of female gender, it is said that it comes from the land of Owu. In front of her the voice does not alter, she is very old and stooped. Her room is painted white and perfume is spread. In the land Arara is known as "Lisa". Its necklace is made in white gutters with some ivory or mother-of-pearl interspersed. A white rosary is also placed on this.



He is very old and long-suffering. He is the king of Ibao. In Arara they call it “Jue Ate”. Her necklace is white, it has ivory, corals and glories, and purple beads are interspersed with it. A crown of thorns is placed on it. It also has 5 messengers that are: alapini (albinos), achipa (leper), sami (deformed), lagunas (dwarfs), shiniku (crippled). Their children do not beg their heads with water fruits, but dried ones.


He is the son of Oshagriñan. He is king of Ketú, warrior and young man. In Arara it is called “Afajun”. He's lefthanded. With the left hand he is attended to and the offerings are placed. Her necklace has white beads and some red interspersed. He carries a sword. Su Ozain rides on a horse with a red blanket. It carries a red and white flag. He's rowdy, drunk, gossipy, and revolutionary. Given to war activities.


Her necklace has white beads with a red one that is inserted every 24 white and a silver crucifix in the middle. It is male. He is old but gets up to fight if necessary.


Despite being originally from Ifon, he is recognized in Oshogbo. You have to ask him for everything backwards. A crown of 16 parrot feathers (ikoides) is put on it. This Obatalá was the one who invented weaving and needlework, he was given 2 silver needles, he also invented carpentry and taught it to Oshagriñán. He is Oduduwa's favorite son.


He is young, he dances on one foot. It is from Ibada land. It is also called "Alasho". He is a warrior with a red band around his waist, just like his father Oshagriñán and his brother Ayaguna. 7 colored handkerchiefs are put on it.

Yeku Yeku:

It is feminine. In Arara it is called "Lumeyo". She is very old, wears a crown with 16 parrot feathers. The sun cannot hit him, nor the air, he lives well wrapped in cotton, he has 16 Ota separated from the tureen that joins the tureen when he goes to eat, then separates again.

Orishanla Baba Fururu:

He is the clay, he is the youth advisor. Ivory, a cross, a horse, a pen, a book are put on it, and the outside of the tureen is adorned with palm leaves.


It is known in the land of Ife by the name of "Lajua". He is the exterminating angel, the opposite of his brother Ayala. He brings death, nothing is sung to him except when he is fed, he lives in a white and green jar. He is put on a scimitar, a laurel wreath, a silver chain and a copper one, his jar is a gourd that is painted green on the outside and inside with the 7 colors of the rainbow. He wears a lot of green. Accompany Odduduwa. It is made from Odu Ara of different colors and a lot of cocoa butter (ori). Eat white rooster at night.


It is feminine. She is queen of Ife. She is called the Queen of Oil. He lives inside curtains and lamps are lit with oil. Your adimuses are placed in a basket that you will always have with its receptacle. He eats 8 pigeons and he is sung from afar.

Aguema or Alaguema:


Among his secrets he has a chameleon named Tanyi. He lives at the top of the ceiba. Eat at 12 noon. When it is going to go down, a cross made of cascarilla (efún) is made where it is going to be placed. She dresses in green, and her necklace is made with white beads and some green interspersed. It is said that he lives leaning against the river walls. You put 7 adimuses in 7 gourds. It is decorated with 7 plates, 7 hats and 7 dolls.


It is feminine. Originally from Ibatán. He enslaved death and took away his scythe, which is a tool that is put inside him. He speaks very softly, he is a merchant, he eats rabbit. They put a lot of handkerchiefs and a lot of husk (efún). Inside its receptacle a silver tube is placed, with seven guinea peppers (atares) that the son will use in case of war.


It is feminine. Olofin's spoiled daughter. She always lives sitting in a chair. Its foundation is composed of its ears and two snail hands.


He is king of the city of Ibadan. It is said that he is a drunkard. Outside its tureen, a wooden barrel and a bottle are placed where they mix all kinds of drinks and a silver gourd. It lives in a jar that is lined with many snails.


He is young, he lives in the courtyard next to a Peregún bush inside a little house in a jar lined with snails, he is riding on a wooden slug.


It is feminine. It is said that she is deaf. Originally from Oyo. It is named by a silver triangle.

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Obatala in the Catholic Religion (syncretism)

Virgin of the Mercedes Obatala

Obatalá in the Catholic religion is syncretized with: Jesus nailed to the cross, with the Catholic saint San Manuel, but mainly its syncretism is related to Our Lady of the Virgen de las Mercedes, also known as the Virgen de la Merced or Virgen de la Mercy.

It is interesting to determine the reason why a basically male deity (despite the fact that in some avatars it is presented as a female deity, it is mostly male) ends up being syncretized with a Virgin, specifically with the Virgen de las Mercedes.

Let us consider that the iconography that identifies the Virgen de las Mercedes is composed of a Mercedarian habit that consists of a tunic, scapular and cape, always in white, with the Mercedarian shield on the chest. In the same way, Obbatala wears only white, and being the owner of the asho funfun (the white cloth), he covers all his children with his mantle.

Let us consider that the iconography that identifies the Virgen de las Mercedes is composed of a Mercedarian habit that consists of a tunic, scapular and cape, always in white, with the Mercedarian shield on the chest. In the same way, Obbatala wears only white, and being the owner of the asho funfun (the white cloth), he covers all his children with his mantle.

This action is clear from the reason why it was created by Olodumare, which consisted of the protection and care of the rest of the deities from the influence of Eshu. Therefore, it could be inferred that his mantle covered the rest of the Orishas as protection, as does the white cloak of the Virgin of Mercy, which covers all the saints and their devotees in some of their representations.

In these pictorial manifestations, the Virgin shelters under her mantle several people offering their protection and being considered as the patron of prisoners or captives unjustly, it has also been interpreted that those people are those who suffer a similar situation.


It is understood that the Africans upon reaching American lands under a terrible captivity and submission, clamored for the protection of the mantle of Obatala, representative of justice, finding in that Virgin a mission on a par with her deity, giving them another reason to relate them; Let's take into account that the Mercedarian order was founded after the apparitions of the Virgen de la Merced, where it inspired San Pedro Nolasco to create a religious order with the aim of freeing captive Christians.

Obatala is basically considered by the santeros as an old man with pure and venerable virtues who combines his greatness with splendor, loaded with firmness and determination. It is related to the light that makes the universe, truth, purity, reason and justice visible. Qualities that are undoubtedly also clearly found in the Virgin Mary, in addition, Our Lady of Mercedes, is also called the Queen of Peace and remember that "peace" is a virtue fundamentally associated with Baba.

Finally, other characteristics in common are the use of the silver crown, and that both hold a scepter of power. Interpreted by the Yoruba the staff or scepter of divine command as a symbol of power and authority.

Obatala prayers

(I pray to Obbatalá and praise the King of the White Cloth)

Obanla or rin n'erù ojikùtù s'èrù.

(The king of the white cloth never fears the coming of death).

Oba n'ile Ifón praise you oba patapata n'ile ìrànjé.

(The Heavenly Father will always be the rule of all generations).

Either yó kelekele or ta mi l'ore. O gbà á gìrí l'owo osikà.

(He gently dissolves my friends' burden. Give me the power to manifest abundance).

O fi l'emi asoto l'owo. Oba ìgbò oluwaiye rè é or kéè bi òwu là.

(Expose the mystery of abundance. Father of the sacred grove, the owner of all blessings increases my wisdom).

O yi 'áála. Osùn l'àála or fi koko àála rumo. Oba ìgbò. Roast.

(So ​​that I become like the white cloth. Protector of the white cloth I salute you. Father of the sacred grove. Asé).

Prayer for love

Great King, immense in his white robes, who sleeps in white cloth.

Great Father that you wake up in white fabrics.

Venerated father, consort of Yemowo.

Just as you found a suitable wife for your destiny,

help me now to find the appropriate love to fulfill mine.

Spirit of Light give me the joy that I request.

As well as fills all the places you visit with joy.

Turn my wishes into pleasant experiences.

Just as it is a nice place where you have your throne. Asé.

To health

Praise Obatala, praise the King of the sacred grove,

praise the King of Heaven, I salute the owner of the White Cloth.

It is the owner of the White Light that I serve.

It is Orisha that I serve. It is the owner of the white light that I serve.

Obatala sleeps in white. Obbatala wakes up blank.

Obatala is on target.

He is the one who creates according to his will,

I give you my respect, and I ask for your health. Asé.

Canto (Suyere) to Obatala

Through the songs Obatála is attracted and its propitiated energy to obtain the blessings that we are looking for. A very popular Baba song is as follows:

Baba fururu ero ereo

Baba kaneñe eleyibó

Elerifa Obatibasawo

Eyigbo rere batibawo

Enu Ayé Yawaró

Eyawaroro eleshe okan


Father fururu, calm down, be good to you

Father Kañeñe Eleyibó, his head and his way of reasoning go slowly.

Wherever you are, hear us, whether you are high up or in the depths of the World.

Our mother come here to earth, our mother we will reach your feet and your heart.

 Baba fururu ero ereo

Baba kaneñe eleyibó

Elerifa Obatibasawo

Eyigbo rere batibawo

Enu Ayé Yawaró

Eyawaroro eleshe okan

Enú aye mi mosheo (bis)

Enú ayé my baba

Get ta wini wini shekure

Gbogbo the iña asherere

Chorus: Enú aye mi mosheo (bis)

Enú ayé my baba

Get ta wini wini shekure

Gbogbo the iña asherere


From the depths of the world his spirit, for wisdom that he possesses and governs.

In the depths of the world is the spirit of the father, Obatala rules life and orders and commands.

Work the good and counteract the tragedies because its power is beneficial.

Akuón: Loroke babá loroke lobá.

Translation: He will come from heaven, the father, will come from heaven to this kingdom.

Chorus: Babá loroké akatioké

Loroké labá baba loroké.


The father will come from heaven, the father will come to this kingdom.

The father will come from heaven.

agogo of obatala

Works with Obatalá

Work for love:

This ritual of loving mooring consists of placing Babá a glass of cow's milk for four days, giving him an account of the request that is being made. Then the custard that forms in the upper part of the glass is removed, it is added with husk and cocoa butter and wrapped in a purple cloth, dried corn straw is added, the name of the person and the traces that are have (nails, hair, hair, among others) and a whole roost is placed. The cloth is sewn into a well-sealed bag and stored inside Obbatala, giving him a new account of the request and asking for dominion over that person.

Work to improve luck:

There will be a bath with cow's milk, husk, cocoa butter, honey, holy water and before drying it is rubbed with white elderberry. Then he goes to the foot of Obatalá and prepares a cartridge with two slices of bread and a shell, closes it and tells the Saint what he is asking for, then passes it over his head from his forehead to his neck and leaves it in the mount or on the hill.

Work to strengthen health:

They look for two grapefruits, a small cap is chopped on top. A lot is taken out of its interior and you add shell and cocoa butter until it is full. It is covered again, wrapped in cotton, the person is cleaned asking for their health and giving Obatalá knowledge of the work that is being carried out. It is left at the foot of the Saint on the days that it indicates and then it is taken to the hill.

Work to sweeten Orishanlá

This work takes place during eight consecutive days in which the Orisha is entertained. The first day: it is requested with a source of rice pudding without salt. The second day: with a tower of meringue with sprinkles. The third: with custard. The fourth: with a liter of milk in a white cup and 6 pieces of cocoa butter. The fifth day: with a plate of rice pudding with cocoa butter. The sixth is requested: with white pumpkin (Chinese). The seventh: with soursop champola. The eighth: with 16 soursop. The last day he wonders if he has been satisfied.

Obatala phrases

Obatala says: "The ancestors will always listen to your prayers, as well as, you must always follow the path that your destiny marks"

Obatalá says: “Whoever hides to shoot an arrow must know that even when no one sees him, his act is openly revealed to the gods. Always be honest. Always be loyal.

He (Obatala) was to act as if he were the embodiment of Olodumare's own desires in terms of goodness, when dealing with men and divinities

More about Obatala:

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