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Olowe of Ise
Nigerian, (ca. 1875 - ca. 1938)

Veranda Post, 1910-1914
Yoruba Sculpture; Made in Nigeria
Wood, paint
56 x 132 x 10 in. (142.2 x 335.3 x 25.4 cm), maximum

Marion Stratton Gould Fund,  71.13

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About the Object

A royal wife stands with her hands resting on the heads of her twin daughters who hold their breasts in a Yoruba gesture of greeting, devotion and humility.  This post was carved to decorate a courtyard veranda in the palace of the Ogoga of Ikere, one of the kings of Yorubaland.  The courtyard served as an official area where the king received important visitors and conducted affairs of state.  It was important that he show off his wealth, power and sophistication in this space.  

This veranda post was carved by one of the most renowned sculptors in Africa, Olowe of Ise.  His sculptures were so beautiful that some people believed Olowe harnessed the power of spirits who carved for him.  Elaborate hairstyles and scarification patterns (look at the royal wife's back) demonstrate Olowe's technical mastery and reflect Yoruba standards of beauty.  Traces of layered pigments indicate that these were once brightly painted and regularly refurbished.
[Gallery label text, 2009]