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Fragment of a Head

This terra-cotta head, probably once part of a full or half figure, shows that Yoruba sculpture was already highly developed a thousand years ago. It was created for the royal court of the kingdom of Ife and represents the oni, or king. Ife court art interprets the human figure with extraordinary naturalism. This head, however, is not intended to be truly representational. It was sculpted to show the oni in the prime of life, with no imperfections. The striations on the face may depict ritual or cosmetic scarification and also serve to emphasize the delicate modeling of the features.


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