According to Wikipedia, different oral traditions refer to different numbers of orishas:

Yoruba tradition often says that there are 401 orishas, which is associated with a sacred number. Other sources suggest that the number is "as many as you can think of, plus one more - an innumerable number". Different oral traditions refer to 400, 700, or 1,440 orisha.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Orisha&oldid=737260447#Number

Why is 401 sacred to the Yoruba? What is the significance of the other numbers?

  • 2
    I wish I knew more about this fascinating tradition. As a referent, I can tell you that 108 is a significant number in Chinese folklore, although it's unclear to what extent the number predates the Water Margin. In Chinese tradition, the number 8 is lucky because the word sounds like the word for prosperity.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 17:58
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    @cybermike Fascinating indeed. You may be interested in taking a look at the Yoruba texts on Sacred Texts: sacred-texts.com/afr/index.htm#wc_africa
    – yannis
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 14:01
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    The Hebraic religions also have an un-numerable numbers for the names of God. I think the numbers are just there to represent "a lot" or "infinity" like here for the (N+1) formula. Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


There is some information here about why the number 400 is sacred (and the "plus one" probably indicates it being innumerable, i.e. a multitude and one more): Number of Orishas

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This only answers what the significance of the 401 is, but not the other numbers, sadly.

There are also completely different numbers, here for example 1200 Orishas

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