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This full-length standing figure is a representation of the Ooni (king) of Ife dressed and ornamented in his royal regalia. While the actual Ooni it was made to represent, in the line of the 51 kings the great kingdom has had so far in its history, is not certain, this effigy embodies and exudes different qualities that are tributes to the power of the Ooni as the ruler and the wealth of the kingdom in general. It is thought to depict a King at War as it is wearing a crown which is akin to the smaller crowns (arinla) worn by Yoruba rulers in battle. Also, it can be noticed to be firmly holding in its left hand what looks like an antelope horn, which was commonly used as a weapon of battle by the people of ancient Ife. On its right hand is probably his staff of office. Both objects are filled with what is known as ase (power, authority, command), a supernatural force through which the Oba makes things happen and can engender a change in the course of events during battles to insure the good fortune of his kingdom and his people.

His attire is decorated with royal bead necklaces of various forms and designs. These are synonymous with wealth and royalty. The smooth stylization and life-size detailing of the physiognomic features is quite remarkable. The ornamented diadem comprises of about four rows of beads; a central cap tier which is marked by concentric circles; and a pointed plume resting on the cap tier. These headdress features are typical of a high-ranking and powerful Ooni in Ife.

Details

  • Title: Figure of the Ooni of Ife
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Creator Nationality: Nigerian
  • Creator Birth Place: Ile-Ife
  • Location Created: Ile-Ife, Nigeria
  • Physical Dimensions: 51.5 x 21 x 17cm
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Original Source: Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art
  • Rights: Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, Pan-Atlantic University
  • Medium: Bronze

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