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20th C. Nigeria Yoruba Wood Colonial Figure

West Africa, Nigeria, Yoruba peoples, mid to late 20th century CE. An interesting and well-carved light wood colonial figure of a woman, topless, with prominent breasts, and wearing a multi-tiered skirt. She has a large headdress atop a clear hairstyle. Her face has strong features with very large eyes in the classic Yoruban style. Bright pigment remains, especially on her skirt, where there are traces of a beautiful cornflower blue. Comes with custom stand. Size: 3.25" L x 3" W x 15.25" H (8.3 cm x 7.6 cm x 38.7 cm).

Nigeria was under British influence or a British colony from the mid-19th century until 1960. During this time, the Yoruba - roughly 20% of Nigeria's population - adapted their culture to the influx of new people and ideas. Already known for their wood carving - nearly every surface in a Yoruban village has a carved wood decoration - they included colonial figures in their artwork. The placement of colonial sculptures like this one may have served as a kind of advertisement - placed in a position relating to a priest, for example, it may show that, even when Christian missionaries were active in the region, Europeans still chose to seek out traditional Yoruban fortune-telling and healing.

Condition: Surface wear overall, with some remaining pigment, especially on the hair and skirt.

Provenance: ex-Adeon Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA, acquired prior to 1970

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