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HOME : African & Tribal Art : African Collection/ HK : Igbo Wooden Alusi Sculpture
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Igbo Wooden Alusi Sculpture - PF.4687
Origin: Southeastern Nigeria
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 29 th Century AD
Dimensions: 41" (104.1cm) high x 7" (17.8cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood and Metal

Additional Information: Hong Kong
Location: Great Britain
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The Igbo (also spelled Ibo) have a great fondness for music and dance, as well as the visual arts. All three are fundamental parts of ceremonies; yet only art can represent the ancestors and divinities for who the ceremonies are held. At the time when ancestors are said to walk the earth, a drum is sounded and the statues are brought from the sanctuary and placed along the wall for all the people to see. They are usually painted red, yellow and white, and decked with accessories such as eagle feathers, jewelry, and headdresses to make them even more beautiful.

This very elegant statue is in classic Ibo style; upright pose, highly symmetrical, arms held away from the body, palms open. The linear quality adds greater height, accentuated by the remarkably effective conical headdress, which fits snugly like a cap. As part of the decoration, it is embossed with nails hammered through metal circles. This design is continued in an arrangement on the stomach, with a vertical line of six nails intersected by one on either side, creating a cross configuration. This probably represents ritual scarification, as does the amazing ridge pattern on the neck. The beautifully textured effect is complimented by the waistband formed of rings or coils like a stack of bracelets. Thick bracelets on the upper arms are balanced by bangles on the lower portion of the legs. All of these ornaments indicate wealth and social standing. The overall appearance is a stunning example of subtle balance and equilibrium very pleasing to the eye. Seeing this superb statue we can easily understand why the Ibo were very proud of their statuary; not only as works of art, but as suitable "abodes" for their cherished ancestors.
- (PF.4687)


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