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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Yoruba Brass Onile Sculpture
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Yoruba Brass Onile Sculpture - PF.5014
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 1500 AD to 1900 AD
Dimensions: 13.75" (34.9cm) high x 3.5" (8.9cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Brass

Location: Great Britain
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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. - (PF.5014)


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