15.2 x 8.3 x 9.5 cm (6 x 3 1/4 x 3 3/4 in.)
Private Collection 21.2018
The vertical lines on this figure's face may represent the shadows of a fringed beaded crown.
This terracotta head is of royal art from Nigeria. It is an idealized representation of the Ooni (king), the spiritual and political leader of the ancient kingdom of Ile-Ife, the religious center of the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria. The head’s naturalism and refinement reflect a deep understanding of the human form characteristic of the highly developed court art of the ancient kingdom nearly a millennium ago. Despite the damage on the right side, the object’s regal demeanor is striking. Its expressive quality is softened by the striations that run down the entire face. The object is arguably the most important terracotta piece attributed to the Inwinrin Grove in Ife where similar objects were dug up in the early 1900s. A 1910 cast of the object is in the British Museum in London.
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