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Journey into the ancient glass technology in Ile-Ife

Owolola Abiola

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Igbo Olokun is an archaeological site where the famous Olokun was excavated over 100years ago. This site is significant in terms of its cultural, historical and tourism values.

One cannot speak of Olokun grove without having to know who Olokun is. Olokun can best be described as a vey majestic and successful woman, owner of finest cloths and beads, and a lovely stern that had bestrode the city of Ife. Olokun was temperamental, she was a giver of children and a very powerful sorceress with unlimited powers (Ase). Olokun devotees are depicted in colors of blue and white with clean crystal beads or bright blue Olokun beads flowing over her large breasts which represents her ability to nurture and “give children”.

According to oral history, Olokun was said to be one of the many wives of Oduduwa, the progenitor of Yoruba race. She was credited with the introduction of bead making industry in the ancient city of Ile-Ife which made her to be famous and rich.

Her grove is located at Irebami Line 7 Ajegunle area of Ile-Ife.

Igbo Olokun was an indigenous glassmaking industry dating ever 1000years ago. The people of ancient Ile-Ife developed a unique recipe for glass by using raw materials sourced locally, they melted the raw materials under high temperature in crucible vessels to make molten glass.  Glass beads of different colors were mass produced at Igbo Olokun in millions. The beads were traded far and wide across ancient West African societies, including Gao and Essouk in Mali and Igbo Ukwu in Anambra state, Nigeria.  Igbo Olokun represent the first known indigenous West African glass technology, and it is a testament to the advancement of the ancient Ile-Ife civilization.

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Journey into the ancient glass technology in Ile-Ife

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