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Ancient African Katsina Clay Janus Head, ex-Arnovick

$695.00
Africa, Northeast Nigeria, Katsina, ca. 1st to 4th century CE. Quite rare, an ancient Katsina terracotta janus (double-headed) figure that once belonged to a statue that would have measured approximately 15 to 30 inches tall. Both sides of this piece depict a bearded male. Very few Katsina janus heads have been documented, according to scholar Claire Boullier. What's more, the shared stylings of these heads demonstrates that they were actually created by a single sculptor which corroborates the progressive idea that Katsina sculptors possessed individualized styles almost 2000 years ago. This said, the sculptor still adhered to stylistic rules embraced by the Katsina culture such as the globular head form, the half-closed eyes, short nose, and pointed chin--all characteristics adhered to by most Katsina sculptors. Additional intriguing features include the perforated ear plugs, pronounced unibrow, parted lips with slightly jutting lower lip, and elaborately incised coiffure with two applied nodules over each forehead. The visages of this piece also show traits akin to Nok figural sculpture such as elongated heads, high smooth foreheads, and elaborate fanciful coiffures, as Katsina visual culture was most certainly influenced by the Classical Nok culture. Scholar Claire Boullier also points to similarities between Katsina and Sokoto sculptures that may prompt further exploration of the networks between these ancient African cultures. For discussions of a similar Katsina janus head see Claire Boullier, "African Terra Cottas. A Millinary Heritage, musee Barbier-Mueller and Somogy (eds), 2008: cat. 81 p. 190. It bears repeating that this is a rare and large example! Size: 7.25" L x 6.5" W x 7.25" H (18.4 cm x 16.5 cm x 18.4 cm)

Condition: A large fragment, repaired from several pieces with a few small losses, but nevertheless, a fine example.

Provenance: Ex Peter Arnovick Collection, Los Altos CA

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