The concept of the itan is vital in understanding Yoruba mythology. The word refers to the sum total of all the myths, songs, histories and other cultural concepts which make up the Yoruban religion and society. The itan are accepted as historically factual, and can be used to settle disputes.
Gods are called Orishas. The primordial, first-existing, Orishas are called Obatala and Odudua, brother and sister respectively, and their father Olorun. Obatala created humanity and Olorun gave life to the hollow shells Obatala had made. Obatala and Odudua later had a son, Aganya, and a daughter, Yemaja, who was a mother goddess. Her son, Orungan, raped her twice; the second time, her body exploded and fifteen Orishas came out. They included Ogun, Olukum, Shakpana, Shango.