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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Igbo, Urhobo : Ibo Ritual Object (Igbo ofo)
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Ibo Ritual Object (Igbo ofo) - DJ.1055
Origin: Nigeria
Dimensions: 6.25" (15.9cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Medium: bronze
Condition: Extra Fine

Location: United States
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The Ibo peoples, numbering over 16 million, make up the third largest ethnic group in Nigeria. The majority of the Ibo live east of the Niger. The different styles of Ibo art clearly show heterogeneous characteristics of the group, which is made up of many numerous groups, which are independent on tribal policies depending on regional location. Focusing mainly on the history of art, bronze casters of the Awka are very important, because it is from them that we have the so called ofo objects such as the one shown here. These cult items by the Awka and Ibo as well as other tribes of the Niger delta, were produced using cire perdue casting. This important cult object stands on four small knobs or legs, and features a long shaft with a round head. The head has circular coil as well as a small human face with an open mouth. Braided designs encircle the outer edge of the ofo and criss cross on the neck or handle area. At the opposite end three 1.5 inch bronze extensions meet at a closed point. The ofo represents the idea of justice and prosperity. Providing ritual validation in social, economic, and religious acts, it is employed during meetings, prayers, and oath taking. The ofo can be used to prove the innocence of the bearer and can be carried to meetings in a leather bag, where it may receive libations. It provides protection during a journey, helps in fighting, and can be used to cast a spell. It may be placed on the ancestral shrine after death, if the owner was important. The ofo is the most important symbol of all property owned by a senior son. - (DJ.1055)


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