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Yoruba Ivory Donkey and Rider - PF.5540
Origin: Nigeria
Circa: 1800 AD to 1920 AD
Dimensions: 5" (12.7cm) high x 1.875" (4.8cm) wide
Collection: African
Style: Yoruba
Medium: Ivory

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This figure seems to be in the midst of a procession. Seated high upon a donkey, reigns in hand, the figure represented must have been of the highest rank and status in his society. He wears the pointed cap of tribal leaders decorated with a cross-shaped grid pattern over which his ears stick out. In his left hand, he carries a staff, again a sign of rank in tribal cultures. With wide oval eyes, broad flat nose, and slightly arching lips, this figure appears quite content and exudes a feeling of warmth and peace. His arms and back are decorated in the same grid pattern as his cap, perhaps representing either scarification on his body or a patterned robe. The strain of carrying this great man can be seen in the donkey’s round eyes. The characteristic pointed ears are depicted, with the mane in between and nostrils seen under the bridal. The reigns or bridal appears to be a series of round beads that extend from the donkey’s mouth into the right hand of the rider. The size of the rider is exaggerated in proportion to the donkey, obviously reflecting his importance. The figure is clearly the focus of this piece and the donkey he rides upon is depicted only to establish his status. As a whole, the work conforms to the cylindrical boundaries of the ivory seen in the crosshatched ring the donkey stands upon. - (PF.5540)

 

 

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