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Four Terracotta Heads from Ife - Nigeria

dat. 1910
14,5 x 8 cm, 19 x 9,5 cm, 14 x 9 cm, 17 x 9 cm
of unknown provenance
Inv. Nr. 27.529 - 27.532

The St. Ottilien Mission Museum owns plaster copies of four terracotta heads. The original heads are held at the Berlin Ethnological Museum and were unearthed 100 years ago by the celebrated ethnologist Leo Frobenius at Ife, the holy city of the Yoruba in Southern Nigeria.

Little is know about these remarkable images. They may plausibly represent outstanding personalities or divinized rulers. The bald head may represent somebody from a neighbouring kingdom. The age of the original terracotta sculptures is unknown, too. Estimates range from the 12th to the 15th century AD.

The pedestals of the St Ottilien plasters are signed "Ife-Terrakotte der Frobenius-Expedition 1910". The museum currently exhibits only three of the four heads. After completion of the renovation project all four will be on display.