Artefacts from Kingdom of Ile Ife
The Kingdom of Ile-Ife was a powerful, cosmopolitan and wealthy city-state in south west Nigeria West Africa; it flourished as a political, spiritual, cultural and economic centre from the 12th century to the 15th century AD, and was an influential hub of local and long distance trade networks. ..
The legendary city of Ile-Ife Kingdom is regarded as the spiritual heartland and the cultural hub of the Yoruba’s who are undoubtedly one of the leading and most progressive people in West Africa.
All the various tribes of the Yoruba nation as well as the Gas of Accra trace their origin from Oduduwa and the city of Ile-Ife located to the South west of Oyo. Arte facts from Ile Ife kingdom express the culture and traditions of the people.
The culture and traditions of the people of Ile Ife are depicted by the artists who developed a refined and highly naturalistic sculptural tradition, creating a style unlike anything in Africa at the time.
Therefore culture as manifested through their artefacts bring about a clear understanding of the culture of the people of Ile Ife.
'Ile Ife' the spot where God created man, white and black and from whence they dispersed all over the earth.(Johnson, 1921:15)
Ile-Ife is regarded and believed to be the cradle of the world (Fabunmi, 1969)
The new digital culture by Oluwatoyin Sogbesan
The imposing figure is the upper part of a broken king figure. It was called Lafogido burst when it was discovered in 1938 because an Ooni was buried close to where it was found. The king is shown wearing an abundance of decorations consisting of beads,metalwork and ivory.
The elaborated crest on his crown is different from that of any other known work from Ile Ife. One of the many braclets is decorated with three human skulls represented by geometric elements. His body is somewhat large indicating a state of health and well being.The king holds a horn, probably from a forest buffalo, that would have been used as a container for powerful medicine.
The only complete full figure known to have survived from Ile Ife, this copper alloy sculpture represents the ruler (Ooni) of Ife wearing a regalia that might have been worn during a coronation. Both the horn and the staff in his right hand are symbols of his authoruity, used only in the brief period between Ooni's accession and coronation.
The bow shaped emplem on his chest similar to the copper alloy half figure. His wrapper. with woven embroidered edge and held by a knotted sash tied over his left hip is an example of the elaborate textiles that Ife rulers wore in the fourteenth century
The most complete of the three known crowned heads is this copper alloy head with a crown made of beads in different shapes, a tassel and a row of feathers.The beads and crest with seven concentric rings are painted black and red.
The face is finely striated and has two lines of holes above the upper lip and between the ears and the neck and jaw. A nail once attached the head to something else, probably a base or a metal ring.
The top of the crest is broken off, but the concentric circles are similar to the crown on the standing king figure and may be an emblem of a specific ruling dynasty.
This head was purchased by anthropologist William Bascom in 1938, but was later returned to Nigeria.
This head is called 'Olokun'. The name Olokun attributed to this head refers to the fact that it was dug up in the late nineteenth century in the Olokun Grove.
At that time, it was used in annual rites honouring Olokun, goddess of the sea and patroness of bead making. It probably represents an Ooni and in its original form, had nothing to do with with Olokun.
This elaborated terra-cota head from Ita Yemoo Ife, suggests that the woman protrayed here was a queen.The headdress represented seems to be made of beads and feathers. The queen's face is smooth but her lips are striated.
According to oral traditions, the head represents Lajuwa, the chamberlain to the Ooni, who is said to have usurped the throne after his master's death by hiding the Ooni's body and donning his regalia. This life size head is said to be kept in Ooni's palace since it was made.
Obalufon Mask is thought to have been kept in the Ife Palace from the time it was made until it was transfered to the Nigerian National Museum in Ife.
The only metal mask from Ile Ife (made of nearly pure copper) and the only cast copper mask from Africa, this work was clearly intended to be worn. There are slits below the eyes through which the wearer could see, holes in the nosrtils to make breathing easier and a gap between the lips that allow the wearer's voice to be heard.
This mask is said to represent Alayemore, known as Obalufon II,the fourteenth-century ruler associated with brass casting in Ile Ife.
One of the 16 heads discovered in Wunmonije Compound,Ife. It is one of only two life-size heads that does not have a hole in the top or back of the head for securing a crown.
A close up on the details of a striated face on a copper head which bears traces of white paint in the eyes. The lines were cut into the metal after casting, not into the wax before the metal was poured into the clay mold.
This near life size head has striation incised on its surface than the other copper head from Ile Ife. Lines of black and red paints surround the eyes, and a band of red paint on the neck.
The paint may have represented a devotional act, for even today priest of the god Orishanla, as well as other devotees of the orisa, are painted with abstract patterns (lines, dots and dashes) on their heads and turso during ritual festivals.
Found in a shrine in Nupe village of Tada on the Niger river, about 120 miles from Ile Ife. In its shrine context, it ensured the fertility of the local community, their crops and the fish in the river. Once a week, it was taken down to the river to be washed and cleaned with gravel.
Part of the clay core from the casting has been dated by thermoluminescence to 1325+/- 60 C.E., the earliest date of any Ile Ife metal sculpture yet found.
This terra-cota head with variety of scarification patterns is more stylized in its treatment of the eyes, facial form and neck rings than the more naturalized idealism found in other examples.
This expressive face is one of the only two known heads with facial marks of raised lines. In the past members of the royal family endured this ordeal for certain rituals.
The looped handles of this finely worked quartz stool, often reffered to as a throne, may represent an elephant's trunk. One of the first Ile Ife works seen outside Africa. It was presented as a gift to a colonial official by Adelekun Olubushe, the Ooni of Ife in 1896 and it was donated to the British Museum that same year.