Galerie Peter Herrmann

Ancient Art from Africa - Ife
Ife head
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Thermoluminescence - Expertise


Memorial Head

Ife, Nigeria
13th century
42 cm


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Memorial Head:

This larger-than-life, 750-year-old head from Ife was very thinly cast and, accordingly, is quite light. Its enormous size indicates that it does not belong to the tradition of heads that were bedecked with the Oni's actual crown after his death. More likely, this head was outfitted with a similarly-cast bronze crown.

The various holes that dot the face were originally ornamented with small pearls, leading Willett to suspect that they were perhaps intended as a means to seal the mouth. This practice hearkens back to various traditions according to which the Oni, as a type of divine king, was not permitted to show his mouth publicly - neither while talking nor while eating (cf. Willett, p. 30).

Frank WILLETT: Ife. Metropole afrikanischer Kunst, Bergisch Gladbach 1967, S. 36.
Barbara PLANKENSTEINER (Hg.): Benin. Könige und Rituale. Höfische Kunst aus Nigeria, Wien 2007, S. 272.

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Similar objects :  
Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim (Ausstellung, 28. Mai bis 27. August 2000)
Ife, Akan und Benin. Westafrikanische Kunst aus 2000 Jahren, Pforzheim 2000, S. 43.
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The National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Ife, Nigeria
Tom Phillips (Hg.): Afrika. Die Kunst eines Kontinents. Prestel, 1996, S. 404.
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Wunmonije Compound, Ife
Schätze aus Alt-Nigeria. Ministerium für Kultur, Berlin (Ost) 1985, S. 114.
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Ekpo EYO, Frank Willett: Kunstschätze aus Alt-Nigeria, Mainz 1983, S. 96.
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Jacques KERCHACHE, Jean-Louis PAUDRAT, Lucien STEPHAN: Die Kunst des Schwarzen Afrika, Freiburg 1989, S. 168.
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Frank WILLETT: Ife. Metropole afrikanischer Kunst, Bergisch Gladbach 1967, S. 36, 74.
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Ife Museum für Ife-Altertümer, Ife
William B. FAGG: Bildwerke aus Nigeria, München 1963, S. 36/ 37.
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