Shrine Figure (Ikenga)

Shrine Figure (Ikenga)

possibly early 1900s

Wood, organic materials, and raffia

Overall: 74.5 x 18 x 20 cm (29 5/16 x 7 1/16 x 7 7/8 in.)

Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2015.72

Did you know?

This figure associated with achievement and success would have received prayers and sacrifices in return for the guidance of ancestors.


This seated figure of a man holding a cutlass and an inverted human skull is a cult object called ikenga, associated with achievement and success. Standing at the center of a man’s personal shrine, the sculpture receives prayers and sacrifices in return for the ancestors’ guidance. An elaborate headdress comprising two horn-like extensions reinforces the cult’s preoccupation with masculinity, while facial incisions known as ichi refer to membership in one of many male associations.

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