A male Urhobo sculpture, ‘mythical warrior’, called ‘Ejo’, Nigeria, posted on an eroded base, sitting upright and rigidly on a two legged stool, wedge-shaped feet, wearing large anklets, the sturdy legs leading to prominent buttocks, accentuated genitals, the hips encircled by a loincloth, wearing a decorative necklace with an amulet in front of his chest, rounded shoulders leading to arms bent at right angles, each decorated with a large bracelet, the left hand holding a spear pointed at the ground, the left another military paraphernalia, the long cylindrical neck supporting an elongated head with heart-shaped facial plane, a protruding open mouth beneath a short triangular nose, pierced crescent-shaped eyes, square scarification marks underneath the eyes, on his wide, bulging forehead seven deep vertical scarification patterns, the large ears set far down and projecting outwardly, on the back of the head a protruding ‘plait’, wearing a top hat, the entire sculpture is carved from a single piece of very hard, heavy wood, covered with a reddish-brown, blackened and white layer, signs of age and ritual use, the left hand and leg partly eroded, several cracks and littel holes.
“The Urhobo live in the western region of the Niger Delta, in the south of Nigeria. They honour the forces of nature in the form of spirits, as well as their own ancestors. The main religious figure in the ancestor cult of the Urhobo is the wood spirit and ‘mythical warrior’, called ‘Ejo’. He is represented in the form of a figure, and ritually venerated in his own shrine and given offerings.”
Lit.: Erwin Melchardt: Urhobo, Nigeria: A sculpture of the ‘mythical warrior Ejo’, who is venerated in his own shrines by the Urhobo, in: Dorotheum, Lot No. 55; Perkins Foss, “Urhobo Statuary for Spirits and Ancestors”, African Arts, July 1976, Vol. IX, No. 4, p. 18; Jean-Baptiste Bacquart: The Tribal Arts of Afric’, p. 93, fig. 8.
Height: 117 cm
Weight: 8.7 kg