Shrine head, 12th-14th century



The John R. Van Derlip Fundexpand_more  95.84

This head’s tranquil demeanor and introspective gaze express what the Yoruba peoples consider a person’s inner virtue. It is a memorial portrait head that comes from the royal city of Ife in western Nigeria, a center of economic, religious, and political power between 1100 and 1400. Ancient Yoruba artists made heads in bronze and terracotta that were part of complete figures or, like here, freestanding. The vertical lines covering the woman’s face either reflect the traditional scarification designs used in the Ife kingdom or represent the veil worn by members of the royal family.

Shrine head
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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