This sculpted veranda post from southwestern Nigeria is rich in imagery associated with the Yoruba, one of the largest and most prolific of art-producing groups in Africa. This sculpture is a visual statement of the symbolic power of men and women in Yoruba society. A seated female with twin offspring, one resting in her lap, the other strapped to her back, dominates the upper section, which celebrates the nurturing power of women. Among the Yoruba, who have an extremely high rate of twin births, twins are seen as blessings and as omens of good fortune. The lower section portrays a powerful male figure, with flywhisk in hand, astride a horse—an artistic convention denoting authority and prestige. The secondary figures behind him, which include a man with two knives and two women, herald his arrival. Other secondary figures depict musicians, religious specialists, and devotees, all forming part of Yoruba community life.
The strong geometric shapes of this veranda post reveal the distinctive hand of Yoruba master sculptor Agunna from Oke Igbira in southwestern Nigeria, whose career spanned the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Recognized today as a carver of great originality, Agunna influenced a generation of artists carving for royal patrons. This house post decorated the entrance porch of a kingly residence in the Ekiti region of Nigeria, where Agunna lived and worked.