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Yoruba Lead Onile Sculpture of a Seated Woman - PF.4712
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 16 th Century AD to 18 th Century AD
Dimensions: 9.25" (23.5cm) high x 3.375" (8.6cm) wide
Collection: African
Style: Yoruba
Medium: Lead

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The Onile, or 'owner-of-the-house' usually comes in pairs and are made at the founding of a settlement and the establishment of an Osugbo lodge. They are generally made of either lead or brass and symbolize the original progenitors. These are the female and male members of the Osugbo, and by extension the entire community. This remarkable female is a lovely example of an early Yoruba ancestral figure. She bears ritual scarification in the form of three long slashes on each cheek, a fine medallion necklace and a wonderful headdress. The headdress is quite similar in style to that of the male's, except the conical shape is more pointed and there is a series of rings descending on either side, and a large one on the front. Onile statues typically show the ancestor holding something tightly against their abdomen; which may be a sacred object connected with fertility. The thick patina comes from many years of devotional offerings, and gives visual proof of the importance this figure had for the members of the Osugbo. - (PF.4712)

 

 

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