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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Igbo, Urhobo : Isoko Oma Figure of Standing Man
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Isoko Oma Figure of Standing Man - LSO.333
Origin: Niger River Delta
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 13" (33.0cm) high
Collection: African
Medium: Wood


Additional Information: hwasun

Location: Great Britain
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Description
This unusual piece is an Oma figure from the Isoko of the Nigerian River Delta. It represents a standing male with very robust legs and strong shoulders, a long torso, a tall head, a savage expression and a small, colonial-style hat with discrete brim and crown. The facial features are angular and sharp, emphasised by double diamonds incised onto the brow. These are echoed elsewhere on the body, which is adorned with a necklace and large bracelets on each wrist. The wood is dark, with highlights of white pigment on the base and all recessed areas of the body.

The Isoko live to the SE of the territory inhabited by the Urhobo, and their art reflects this association. Their artworks are designed with apotropaic functions in mind, and are kept on altars, libated, receive blessings, and are sporadically paraded about the village. The pieces have a link to ancestors, but this is rarely articulated as such, as their works are schematic and tend to idealise manly (or, sometimes, womanly) virtues. They are unusual for the incorporation of elements that seem to reflect western traditions, notably hats, and it is probable that these reflect wealth and aspiration, as they do in other contact-period groups.

Isoko pieces are uncommon and desirable. This is a charming and impressive piece of African art.

- (LSO.333)

 

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