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Ife (Yoruba)

Female Portrait Head, 12th century - 14th century
H.12 x W.5-3/4 x D.7 in.
terra-cotta

Context:
Between the 12th and 14th centuries, the royal city of Ife, in present-day Nigeria, was a center of religious and political power, and its importance was reflected in a highly developed and distinctive sculptural style. Portrait heads modeled in terra-cotta or bronze stood on royal shrines in the palace compound. This head, recently acquired by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, probably represents a woman of the royal court. The delicate lines on her face show a pattern of scarification, the cutting of designs into the skin to mark identity or status.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
No. 95.84
The John R. Van Derlip Fund

Index terms
Sculpture


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