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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Yoruba Bronze Onile Sculpture
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Yoruba Bronze Onile Sculpture - PF.4923
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 18th th Century AD to 19th th Century AD
Dimensions: 15" (38.1cm) high x 5.5" (14.0cm) wide
Collection: African
Style: Yoruba
Medium: Bronze

Location: United States
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Onile are large, freestanding male or female ancestor figures owned by an Osugbo lodge. They represent the power of the Osugbo member's ancestors and past owners of the Osugbo house; serving also as visual models of strength and wise judgment. The onile are considered so powerful they are a kept in the lodge out of sight from the public, and are watched over by the Apena or Olurin, individuals who are responsible for care of metal ritual objects.

This amazing onile comprises dual images back to back, both male, each with certain distinctive features. One figure has his left fist on top of his right. This placement signals the dominance of spiritual and sacred matters over the material world; and is also a greeting or blessing between Osugbo members. Emphasis on the male sex organs conveys the mystical power of procreation. The heads are large in proportion to the bodies because this is where the spiritual essence of an individual resides. The power of this sculpture is so intense it transcends cultural boundaries, making us aware of something very mysterious that inexplicably has meaning in our own lives. This truly is the power of art.
- (PF.4923)


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