Onile sculptures are symbols of the Osugbo
society, an important organization composed of
the eldest and wisest members in a community.
In general, the Onile is a free-standing male or
female brass figure serving an entire Osugbo
lodge, and cast at the foundation of the lodge to
represent the original progenitors of the Osugbo
members. Their size is dictated by the wealth of
the particular lodge, and ones such as this
beautiful example, indicate a well-to-do
organization. The figure is seated holding a
scepter in the right hand (symbol of royal
authority) and a small ritual object in the left. His
head is large in proportion to the body,
emphasizing the Yoruba believe that the “spirit”
of a person emanates from the head. The figure's
crown is topped by a bird, another symbol of
kingship, and also the power the king has over
witches of the night who take the form of birds.
Most impressive is the dignified, noble
expression of the face, displaying those virtues
that the Yoruba most admire: patience, tolerance
and inner peace.