Iledi Ontotoo is Susanne Wenger’s most sensitive and complex architectural creation. Built in 1975, it is the assembly point for the Ogboni, traditionalists associated with the Earth deity.
This remarkable structure is composed of three enormous roofs which rise against the sky like giant lizards, representing the forces of the earth before mankind. The powerfully sculpted totems that support the three roofs symbolically protect the inner sanctum of the Shrine.
The exterior walls are elaborately sculpted with “rapturously emotional scenes” to use Susanne’s words, depicting interactions with the deities. The interior of the Shrine is richly decorated with wall-paintings, a symbolic visual art form unique to the Yoruba which communicate messages to the Gods.
23 people worked on this restoration led by Adebisi Akanji, Susanne’s artistic collaborator on all her major monuments and Sangodare Ajala. Very sadly, during the 7 month restoration, Saka, one of the first artists to be mentored by Susanne, passed away. In 2021 a tree fell creating major damage. Restoration was led by Adebisi Nurudeen.
The AOTF thanks Julius Berger and the Tolaram Group Plc for their generous financial support. Cyark, a USA NGO, created a
3D scan allowing people to experience a “virtual” tour. Visit the Adunni Olorisha Trust-Osun Foundation’s Google Arts and Culture Site.
“Like the rest of Susanne’s architecture, this building fully stands up to her own ultimate test: it forms part of the forest, it grows like a spectacular tree, and in spite of its unusual shape this building does not impose itself on its surroundings. Rather it is like a concentration, a heightening of the atmosphere around it.” (Ulli Beier, 1975)