Africa, Northern Nigeria, Nok culture
c. 500 B.C.–A.D. 500
c. 285 B.C.–A.D. 515
12 3/4 x 6 3/4 x 7 in. (32.4 x 17.2 x 17.8 cm)
Currently On View
This unadorned yet elegant head represents a strain of Nok art differentiated from the typically more energized Nok style, perhaps of a type produced in another area. Sculpted in the round, it is most likely broken at the neck from a full figure. The relatively simple features delineated in the smooth surface of the head are generally flatter than those seen in the type represented by the Kimbell’s more fully developed Male Figure. The uniform, caplike coiffure reaches from ear to ear, covering them completely. The eyes, nostrils, and a spot beneath the covered ears are pierced, but the mouth is not; the flat, wide lips are open to show clenched teeth. There is no mustache, but the standard small beard projects from the bottom of the chin. The eyes are of typical triangular shape, the thin eyebrows decorated with cross-hatching. The restrained articulation of the facial features endows this head with a quietly regal composure, while the seeming modernity in overall conception is quite striking.
Private collection, Europe; purchased by (L & R Entwistle & Co., Ltd., New York and London); purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1996.