Semiotics is a study of signs and symbols, and used as a medium of communication without uttering words.
In ancient Yoruba wisdom, it has been deviced and used, it is called ÀROKÒ.
Àrokò is a non verbal communication medium used in The days without modern communication systems.
It is an ancient communication system in Yoruba land by sending or transferring objects and materials of various properties to communicate their coded messages.
The study of Àrokò is an interestingly deep adventure, but Here we shall briefly mention and discuss some of these symbols and their meaning.
ÀÀLÈ (embargo); Ààlè is a means of telling trespassers to keep off a property.
An indication of embargo. When you go to someone’s farm or any landed property, and you see Palm fronds attached to stick or some red cloth and horn, it is an ààlè, it means “KEEP OFF”
PÁKÒ (chewing stick)
When you receive a chewing stick from an opposite sex, hmmm… It means “I LOVE YOU”
When you receive an orange from someone, maybe sent through somebody else, it means I am pleased with you. It could also mean I love you.
A comb is used ordinarily for combing hair, I.e for separation of tangled hair.
This phenomenon is transfered in coded Yoruba Àrokò. Sending a comb to someone far away means separation or ending Of friendship or love affair.
The sending of a piece of mat raffia especially of ore type is an indication that someone is sick in the household of the receiver and such a person is very lean.
Receing some part of cloth used to tie Baby means the pregnant woman you left home has successfully put to bed
IGBÁ ÒFÌFO (An empty Calabash)
When a king receives an empty Calabash, parrot egg or skull.
It means the people are no longer pleased with him, he should commit suicide.
OWÓ ẸYỌ(cowrie shells)
Owó ẹyọ is an object widely used to indicate many things in different àrokò, depending on the packaging and their number.
A cowrie shell with a string attached to it is a sign of bad thing or that unfavorable thing happened.
Two cowries shells tied together facing each other sent to a party or another group means we are in agreement with you or your view, there is harmony.
But when the two shells are tied backing each other, it means disagreement, it means discord.
symbolizes rejection and unfavorable message.
Traditionally, the Yoruba abhor the giving of things in three (3).
Three in Yoruba numerology is confusing.
Six cowries tied together in 3 pairs, it is an expresion of emotion.
Ẹ̀fà (6) is symbolic in Yoruba numerology, it Means attraction.
Ẹ̀fà ló ní kíẹ fà mí mọ́ra (It is six that says draw me closer).
So this Àrokò means the sender is longing to see the receiver. Or simply put, it means I MISS YOU.
Sending of Irukere – flywhisk and cowrie shells from one monarch to Another is a request for agreement or solidarity or farewell.
ÌBỌN/Ẹ̀TÙ (Gun or gunpowder)
Gun or gunpowder is a communication means between states or towns to express a conflict or war.
It tells the receiving town or village to prepare for an imminent war with the sender.
Salt or horney is sent in opposite meaning to gunpowder. It means peace, harmony and solidarity between the two towns or parties.
Sending both sword and salt to another party in an unresolved issue means the receiver should choose between war and peace.