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Ife Bronze Mask

Circa 16th th Century AD to 19th th Century AD
Dimensions 11.25″ (28.6cm) high
Medium Bronze
Origin Nigeria


Ife, the capital and religious center of Southwest Nigeria, was one of the first Sub-Saharan cities to emerge at the end of the first millennium AD. A substantial number of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptures, made most frequently in terracotta although brass was also employed, were produced in the region between the 11th and the 15th centuries. This distinctive style is broadly referred to as “Ife”, even though some examples may come from other cities such as Owo. The brass objects especially are strikingly realistic, despite the fact they are almost certainly idealized portraits of dead kings, called Oni. The terracotta heads are more numerous and varied, no doubt a result of the comparative abundance and ease of working the material. Some of the faces, whether made of brass or terracotta, carry vertical parallel incisions, possibly representing scarification or body paint. – DC.0720


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