Kingdom of Ife, and the Sculptures from West
In the British Museum from 4th March to 6th June 2010. [visited 9/04/10]
The commerce and trade along the River Niger arriving from the kingdoms of Benin and further north from the Meditterean provided economic benefits to the Kingdom of Ife. With this came: wealth of commodities, ideas and status and identity as part of the Kingdom.
The new wealth for the city state gave identity providing the basis for society through out the 1100 - 1400s. The new status gave the echelons of society respect for religion, royalty, superstition and boundary lines drawn up to show the delineation of land, power and a cosmopolitan society.
A Cultural understanding of the political importance of Elders and the spoken traditions that defined mythical deities, the embroidered heroics of royalty and warriors that kept as interest for worship and sacrifice. The reverance of virility, age, serenity, health, suffering and threats to survival, were celebrated as the fore bearers of fate, life and death and so were worth the portents. The line of influence was measurable by the equipped artwork icons of the people and also the well worked boundaries and domestic altars were marked by monoliths, statues, and sculptures.
The characteristics of the Artwork re-defined Nigerian and African Identity during this period. The portraits of kings and Queens were full naturalistic, almond shaped, plump enough to show a measure of wealth. The features: full lips, downward gaze to the viewer (not all) ever watchfull, defining the presence and influence to the Elders. The shape of the head varied, either as the inner core of powerful leadership or rounded for society.
The finery attached to headdress, professed power, leadership and enduring authority over the kingdom. The colour and striation on heads readied the rituals and ceremonies of deities. Such painted markings, indents were tattoos. Their significance probably not to be properly under estimated. The use of animals moulded for reverence to nature, and the power of fate.
What manner of casts in bronze, copper and brass from Clay moulds made art remarkable for its era and area of influence.
Art critic: E. Waller
About The Sculptures of West of Africa in the Kingdom of Ife, 1100-1400s