The dense forest of Osun Sacred Grove is one of the few remaining historic sites in southern Nigeria.

Through the forest meanders the Osun River, the spiritual abode of the Osun River Goddess. In the forest, the shrine has forty shrines, sculptures and works of art erected in honor of Osun and other Yoruba deities by UNESCO. The Grove is an active religious site with daily, weekly and monthly worship services.

Le Bosquet is also a natural herbalist containing more than 400 species of plants, some endemic, of which more than 200 species are known for their medicinal uses.

Over the years, the grove has been impacted by floods and climate change, threatening its existence.

The priest of Osun performs a blessing for Jumoke Sanwo on the banks of the Osun River. | Source: cyArk
Floods at Busanyin Shrine | Source: cyArk

Recently, Google Arts & Culture, in partnership with The Adunni Olorisha Trust and CyArk, announced the launch of the first and largest digital library of content featuring the Sacred Grove of Osun Osogbo.

The launch also marks the digital preservation of one of Nigeria’s last sacred groves, part of Google Arts and Culture’s wider Heritage on the Edge project. The project helps site managers digitally document heritage sites threatened by climate change, using the captured images to further support community maintenance and conservation.

Ọbàtálá Shrine Complex | Source: Adunni Olorisha Trust / Osun Foundation

Highlights of the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove Project that can be explored online include a street view of the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove, including the Busanyin Shrine before it was affected by floods and 3D models of four of the site’s dynamic shrines. The collection allows viewing of 900 high-resolution photographs of the site, contemporary and historical artworks and sculptures, artists and spiritual leaders. It also tells 28 stories about art, community and spirituality at Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove, and the effect of climate change on the site and includes three audio interviews, including one with popular artist Jimoh Buraimoh about by Susanna Wenger.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, expressed his joy and gratitude that the Grove had gone live.

“I said during the visit to the grove in 2019 that it was important to refocus national and global attention on this World Heritage Site, and I am happy that we have achieved our goal, as evidenced by this project of digitization of the sanctuary and its surroundings.. I would like to sincerely congratulate all the partners for this monumental work,” said Lai Mohammed.

The project also allows visitors to watch 27 video interviews and see aerial views and 3D views of the site while annotated 3D tours of Busanyin and Iya Moopo shrines showcase the legacy of art and spirituality in the grove. sacred.

“We are grateful that, through partnerships, we are now able to preserve one of the most recognized and culturally rich Yoruba heritage sites known for its active traditional worship and art movements. contemporary,” said Chance Coughenour, Program Manager and Digital Archaeologist, Google Arts & Culture. .

Arugbá Gate Source: Adunni Olorisha Trust / Osun Foundation

“The Yoruba community is one of the largest in Nigeria and the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove is truly a unique and special place that embodies the essence of Yoruba culture and heritage,” said Olufemi A. Akinsanya, Chairman by Save Our Art! Save our heritage! Country.

Robin Campbell, a member of the Adunni Olorisha Trust/Adunni Osun Foundation, shared that over $300,000 has been raised and spent to restore and preserve the site over the past 15 years. Funds were collected for interested individuals and organizations.

“It will take around £10-15 million ($14,300-$21,500) a year to keep this historic site running at peak performance,” Campbell said.

The preservation of this historical site should increase tourism, allow the younger generation to learn more about history and create jobs for artisans and tourist guides.

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