AncientPages.com - If you haven't seen these remarkable ancient figures before, then prepare yourself for a surprise.
Hidden in the dense forest of the Osun Sacred Grove we encounter a large number of ancient very puzzling odd-looking figures with huge eyes and strange features.
Who were these beings? Where did they come from and what happened to them?
Located on the outskirts of the city of Osogbo, in southern Nigeria, we find the dense forest of the Osun Sacred Grove. This amazing place is regarded as the abode of the goddess of fertility Oshun, one of the pantheon of Yoruba gods.
Oshun shares many similarities with the Egyptian goddess Isis. The goddess Oshun, was not only the goddess of beauty and love. She brought also the teaching of divinations, mysticism, agriculture and culture to humans.
Mysterious sculptures in the dense forest of the Osun Sacred Grove. Credit: TripAdvisor
She is known as the mother of the fishes of the seas and the birds of the forest. Isis used to be represented as the mother of the fishes and the Queen of the seas. Oshun was also protector of the poor, the mother of all orphans, and the one who brought them what they needed in this life through periods of weakness or strength.
A century ago there were many sacred groves in Yorubaland: every town had one. Most of these groves have now been abandoned or have shrunk to quite small areas.
Credit: Thierry Joffroy, UNESCO
Osun-Osogbo, in the heart of Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, founded some 400 years ago in southwest Nigeria, at a distance of 250 km from Lagos is the largest sacred grove to have survived and one that is still revered.
The dense forest of the Osun Sacred Grove is some of the last remnants of primary high forest in southern Nigeria.
Through the forest meanders the river Osun, the spiritual abode of the river goddess Osun. Set within the forest sanctuary are forty shrines, sculptures and art works erected in honour of Osun and other Yoruba deities, many created in the past forty years, two palaces, five sacred places and nine worship points strung along the river banks with designated priests and priestesses.
Osogbo is now unique in having a large component of 20th century sculpture created to reinforce the links between people and the Yoruba pantheon, and the way in which Yoruba towns linked their establishment and growth to the spirits of the forest.
The restoration of the grove by artists has given the grove a new importance: it has become a sacred place for the whole of Yorubaland and a symbol of identity for the wider Yoruba Diaspora.
The Grove is an active religious site where daily, weekly and monthly worship takes place. In addition, an annual processional festival to re-establish the mystic bonds between the goddess and the people of the town occurs every year over twelve days in July and August and thus sustains the living cultural traditions of the Yoruba people.