African/Oceanic

Head is an unadorned yet elegant version of a Nok style. Head  shows relatively simple features delineated in the smooth surface and a caplike coiffure reaches from ear to ear. The eyes, nostrils, and a spot beneath the covered ears are pierced.
Head
Head
Head is an unadorned yet elegant version of a Nok style. Head  shows relatively simple features delineated in the smooth surface and a caplike coiffure reaches from ear to ear. The eyes, nostrils, and a spot beneath the covered ears are pierced.

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.
Detail of Male Figure's head and shoulders with complex hairstyle,  composed of three rows of seven conical buns, with larger hemispherical caps over the ears, and lavish adornments of necklaces, jewelry, and beaded chains
Male Figure
Male Figure
Detail of Male Figure's head and shoulders with complex hairstyle,  composed of three rows of seven conical buns, with larger hemispherical caps over the ears, and lavish adornments of necklaces, jewelry, and beaded chains

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.
Detail of the carefully modeled face
Head, possibly a King
Head, possibly a King
Detail of the carefully modeled face

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 is a bronze sculpture of the Oba dressed in full ceremonial regalia, complete with a headdress, neckpiece, proclamation staff and sword.
Standing Oba
Standing Oba
Standing Oba is a bronze sculpture of the Oba dressed in full ceremonial regalia, complete with a headdress, neckpiece, proclamation staff and sword.

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.
Detail of face and body of Standing Ancestor Figure who also has arm tattoos and spirals for joints.
Standing Ancestor Figure
Standing Ancestor Figure
Detail of face and body of Standing Ancestor Figure who also has arm tattoos and spirals for joints.

Standing Ancestor Figure

New Zealand, Maori culture, possibly Rongowhakaata people
Te Huringa period I (1800–1900)
c. 1800–1840
Wood
17 5/8 x 5 3/16 x 4 7/16 in. (44.8 x 13.2 x 11.2 cm)
AP 1989.04
The Maori tribes of New Zealand excelled in the decoration of their timber buildings with elaborate relief carvings and sculptures.
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
Warrior Ancestor Figure
Warrior Ancestor Figure
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

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 is a hero and royal ancestor of the Chokwe people. In this standing wood statute, the figure wears elaborate headgear and holds a staff and a carved antelope horn in his hands.
Chibinda Ilunga
Chibinda Ilunga
Chibinda Ilunga is a hero and royal ancestor of the Chokwe people. In this standing wood statute, the figure wears elaborate headgear and holds a staff and a carved antelope horn in his hands.

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 is a sensual and naturalistic wooden sculpture thought to represent the primeval matriarch who founded the Makonde tribe.
Kneeling Mother and Child
Kneeling Mother and Child
Kneeling Mother and Child is a sensual and naturalistic wooden sculpture thought to represent the primeval matriarch who founded the Makonde tribe.

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 is a mask worn by the Yombe people in divination ceremonies, , through which past or future events were revealed. The black color of the mask is also associated with judgment and divination.
Diviner’s Mask
Diviner’s Mask
Diviner’s Mask is a mask worn by the Yombe people in divination ceremonies, , through which past or future events were revealed. The black color of the mask is also associated with judgment and divination.

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.