Yoruba Bronze Sculpture of a Horse and Rider - X.1008
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 18 th Century AD to 19 th Century AD
Collection: African
Style: Yoruba
Medium: Bronze


This magnificent bronze sculpture depicts a horse and what appears to be a female rider. Horses were considered signs of nobility and Kings and rulers were often depicted on horseback. The woman’s oversized head has been rendered with large, bulging eyes and a broad, pointed nose characteristic of the Yoruba style. She wears a beaded headdress, likely made of coral, which covers her head and indicated her nobility. A row of bells hangs from the back of her headdress and would have once announced her impending arrival as the horse trotted forth. The horse has been bridled and wears a saddle blanket, indicated that it is no wild steed but an obedient companion of kings and queens. The disproportionate scale of the horse indicates that the focus of the work is on the queen, specifically her head. Even the limbs of the woman appear thin and small when compared to her head. We can imagine this woman riding along in the midst of a ceremonial procession, presumably accompanied by her husband and children. Is she a queen? Or might she be a princess en route to her wedding? Although we will never know the true identity of this woman, we can revel in the beauty of the sculpture and the cultural history it represents. - (X.1008)



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