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A bronze head

A bronze head

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A bronze head in the style of Benin, depicting a young Oba, characterized by the typical Ife style features: The corners of the upper eyelids hang over those of the lower ones. Around the lips is an accentuated edge, here especially around the upper lip. There are grooves around the neck; the bronze is heavily encrusted with various layers of reddish brown patina, partly eroded, defects on the neck, several dents at the top of the head, four openings in the neck probably for nails, with which the head was originally attached to a wooden body.

Similar bronze heads like the one of the Wunmonije Compound type are quite often found, which raises the question of their use. It is assumed that they were attached to a life-size wooden figure, possibly with movable limbs. These figures were dressed in the same way as the person depicted would have been. Perhaps the Oba was thus able to attend ceremonies and burials without being personally present. When a new Oba came into power perhaps only the bronze head was replaced.

„ … vier Öffnungen, die für Nägel bestimmt waren, mit denen man den Kopf wahrscheinlich ursprünglich an einem hölzernen Rumpf befestigt hatte.“ Frank Willet, Ife, pl. 3.

„Die lebensgroßen Bronzeköpfe aus Ife mögen für denselben Zweck an ähnlichen Körpern befestigt gewesen sein.“ Frank Willet, Ife, pl. 2.

Lit.: Frank Willet, Ife. Neue Entdeckungen der Archäologie, 2. Auflage 1975, Tafel 2 und 3. H. Meyerowitz and V. Meyerowitz, Bronzes and Terra-Cottas from Ile-Ife, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs (Oct., 1939). Arts de L'Afrique Noire, Jean Laude, translated by Jean Decock, University of California Press Berkeley, 1966, 1. Paperback-Edition 1973.

Source: Frank Willet, Ife, page 72.

Height: 32 cm
Weight: 2,6 kg

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