African Collection

Head
Head

Head

Africa, Northern Nigeria, Nok culture
c. 500 B.C.–A.D. 500
c. 285 B.C.–A.D. 515
Terracotta
12 3/4 x 6 3/4 x 7 in. (32.4 x 17.2 x 17.8 cm)
AP 1996.04
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.
Male Figure
Male Figure

Male Figure

Africa, Northern Nigeria, Nok culture
c. 500 B.C.–A.D. 500
c. 195 B.C.–A.D. 205
Terracotta
19 1/2 x 8 3/4 x 6 5/8 in. (49.5 x 22.2 x 16.8 cm)
AP 1996.03
Nok terracottas are the earliest known sculptures from ancient Nigeria. Sculptures of this kind were first discovered in 1943 by Bernard Fagg near the northern Nigerian village of Nok, after which the culture that produced them was named.
Head, possibly a King
Head, possibly a King

Head, possibly a King

Africa, Southwestern Nigeria, Ife culture
12th–14th century
Terracotta with residue of red pigment and traces of mica
10 1/2 x 5 11/16 x 7 3/8 in. (26.7 x 14.5 x 18.7 cm)
AP 1994.04
The art of Ife, which flourished from the twelfth to the fifteenth century in southwestern Nigeria, in the area occupied by the Yoruba people, is unique in Africa in representing human beings with extraordinary naturalism.
Standing Oba
Standing Oba

Standing Oba

Africa, Southern Nigeria, Benin City, Kingdom of Benin
late 18th century
Bronze (or brass)
22 5/8 x 7 1/8 x 7 3/4 in. (57.4 x 18.1 x 19.7 cm)
AP 1970.04
Benin City is the center of an ancient culture that has flourished for centuries in southern Nigeria. From the early seventeenth century there are accounts by Europeans of the extensive architectural use of cast metal (actually brass) relief panels and other objects.
Warrior Ancestor Figure
Warrior Ancestor Figure

Warrior Ancestor Figure

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
area of Lualaba, Luika, and Lukuga rivers, Hemba people
19th century
Wood
33 1/8 x 10 1/4 x 9 1/8 in. (84.1 x 26 x 23.2 cm)
AP 1979.03
This dignified figure of a Hemba warrior, with his upright posture and lofty, outward gaze, would have served as the focus for the veneration of its ancestors among one of the Hemba peoples of the central and eastern Congo.
Chibinda Ilunga
Chibinda Ilunga

Chibinda Ilunga

Africa, northeastern Angola, Chokwe people
mid-19th century
Wood, hair, and hide
16 x 6 x 6 in. (40.6 x 15.2 x 15.2 cm)
AP 1978.05
This imposing figure represents the hero Chibinda Ilunga, royal ancestor of the Chokwe people. According to legend, Ilunga, the son of a great Luba chief, wooed Lweji, a Lunda chieftainess. He introduced into that tribe the concept of divine kingship and also taught the Lunda the art of hunting.
Kneeling Mother and Child
Kneeling Mother and Child

Kneeling Mother and Child

Africa, Tanzania-Mozambique border area, Makonde people
late 19th century
Wood
14 1/2 x 5 3/8 x 4 3/4 in. (36.8 x 13.6 x 12 cm)
AP 1979.37
Among the few East African peoples who make sculptures in any quantity, the Makonde produce unusually naturalistic figures.
Diviner’s Mask
Diviner’s Mask

Diviner’s Mask

Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, Yombe people
early 20th century
Wood, organic materials
9 x 6 5/8 x 4 3/16 in. (22.8 x 16.8 x 10.7 cm)
AP 1979.42
Among the Yombe people, masks were used in divination ceremonies, through which past or future events were revealed.