Ooni Obalufon Alayemore – The man who redefined Yoruba tradition
Ooni Obalufon Alayemore (Obalufon II) was born into the second Ooni of Ife’s lineage family after the demise of Oduduwa, Osangangan Obamakin. He was the son of the fourth Ooni of Ife Obalufon Ogbogbodirin (Obalufon I). He was a traditional ruler and the fifth Ooni of Ife.
He is described as the grand patron of arts as the Yoruba art tradition reached its peak during his reign.
The Ife marbles put Ife historic art on the spotlight when the late king of Ife, Ooni Adelekan Olubuse gave the British colony governor, Gilbert Thomas Carter three artifacts known as Ife marbles in 1896.
The exact time Obalufon II was alive is not known. In comparison, others have put the date between the eighth and ninth centuries A.D, while some have argued that it is between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries A. D, but he was certainly active during Oranmiyan’s reign.
The arts associated with Obalufon are dated based on radiocarbon and thermoluminescence analysis.
But historians have argued that the dates could be wrong. Most of the artifacts associated with Obalufon were found in a second burial background, making the test unreliable as soil analyses in the first burial would have yielded useful information.
The stylistic artifacts found at the Ita Yemoo site are also believed to be associated with Obalufon II.
The sixteen artifacts of life-size head symbolizing the allegiance of sixteen Yoruba crown states to Ife is also believed to be associated with Obalufon.
Another art associated with Obalufon II is the Obalufon mask. A technique described as timeless with the prominent almond-shaped eyes, and noticeable holes around the chin areas so that a beard could be attached.
Obalufon II left the throne briefly for Oranmiyan, who had just returned from establishing kingdoms across the Yoruba land and Benin.
Obalufon II has established cities and towns like Ido-Ogun, Ilara, and many more before returning to succeed Oranmiyan becoming the first and only Ooni to be crowned twice.
The fine arts in ancient Yoruba kingdom and Benin (Bini) are similar as both Obalufon II, and Oranmiyan is believed to have inherited the tradition from their lineage.