220935 - African Ife head from the Yoruba region - Nigeria.
African Terracotta Ice head from the Yoruba, Nigeria.
size; 23×16×12 cm and weight 1.7 kilos.
Ife, the former capital of Nigeria, gave its name to this art of terracotta sculpture. This terracotta head is in the style of Ita Yemoo, a site discovered in 1957. It undoubtedly represents a dignitary. The prosperity of Ife allowed the development of an unparalleled art that would have been born in the terracotta and later transformed into the metal.
Ife is an ancient Yoruba city in southwestern NIGERIA. The city is known as the cradle of this people and of one of the most beautiful civilizations in sub-Saharan Africa. The Yorubas or Yoroubas are a large ethnic group in Africa, mainly present in Nigeria, on the right bank of the Niger River, but also in Benin, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.
The Yoruba of West Africa (Benin, Nigeria and Togo, with migrant communities in parts of Ghana and Sierra Leone) are responsible for one of the finest artistic traditions in Africa, a tradition that remains vital and influential today.
Much of the art of the Yoruba, including staffs, court dress, and beadwork for crowns, is associated with the royal courts. The courts also commissioned numerous architectural objects such as veranda posts, gates, and doors that are embellished with carvings. Other Yoruba art is related shrines and masking traditions. The Yoruba worship a large pantheon of deities, and shrines dedicated to these gods are adorned with carvings and house an array of altar figures and other ritual paraphernalia. Masking traditions vary regionally, and a wide range of mask types are employed in various festivals and celebrations.he custom of art and artists among the Yoruba is deeply rooted in the Ifá literary corpus, indicating the orishas Ogun, Obatala, Oshun and Obalufon as central to creation mythology including artistry (i.e. the art of humanity).
In order to fully understand the centrality of art (onà) in Yoruba thought, one must be aware of their cosmology, which traces the origin of existence (ìwà) to a Supreme Divinity called Olódùmarè, the generator of ase, the enabling power that sustains and transforms the universe. To the Yoruba, art began when Olódùmarè commissioned the artist deity Obatala to mold the first human image from clay. Today, it is customary for the Yoruba to wish pregnant women good luck with the greeting: May Obatala fashion for us a good work of art.
The concept of ase influences how many of the Yoruba arts are composed. In the visual arts, a design may be segmented or seriate- a "discontinuous aggregate in which the units of the whole are discrete and share equal value with the other units." Such elements can be seen in Ifa trays and bowls, veranda posts, carved doors, and ancestral masks.1