town, Osun state, southwestern Nigeria. The town lies at the intersection of roads from Ibadan (40 miles [64 km] west), Ilesha, and Ondo. It is one of the larger centres and probably the oldest town of the Yoruba people. Considered by the Yoruba to be a holy city and the legendary birthplace of mankind, it was held to have been founded by a son of the deity Oduduwa and was certainly the capital of a well-established kingdom (probably named for Ifa, the god of divination) by the early 11th century. By the late 12th or early 13th century, its artisans were producing the naturalistic terra-cotta heads and bronze pieces made by the cire perdue ("lost-wax") process for which the Ife kingdom is now well known. Ife had great political and cultural influence over the Edo kingdom of Benin to the southeast
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