Yoruba Bronze Ogboni Sculpture of a Seated Man - PF.4714
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 12 th Century AD to 15 th Century AD
Dimensions: 7.625" (19.4cm) high x 1.875" (4.8cm) wide
Collection: African
Style: Yoruba
Medium: Bronze


The Ogboni society consists of the elders of the village who have decision-making powers. This group oversees the cult of the master of the earth, onile. Within the Ogboni lodge there would have been ancestral statues which acted as visual reminders of past chiefs and as moral 'guardians' of the present chiefs and elders. This particular ancestral statue is quite extraordinary and rare. It shows a seated male holding a pedestaled bowl, which is probably meant to symbolize votive offerings. His face has a supplicatory expression, with its slightly parted mouth and fantastic insect-like eyes. The hair and beard is similar to those worn by elders of the Dogon tribe. The figure's elongated body gives him a somewhat reptilian look; yet this male is very well endowed sexually and suggests the statue had a fertility function. It is the magic of art that a sculpture can be taken from its place of origin and still radiate such power and presence. This great ancestor seems to be watching over us as well! - (PF.4714)



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