Ife Terracotta Bust

SKU FJ.0001

14th Century AD to 17th Century AD


7.25″ (18.4cm) high





Gallery Location



Ife (Yoruba: Ifè, also Ilé-If?`) is an ancient Yoruba city in south-western Nigeria. Evidence of settlement of the city has been discovered dating back as far as 500 BC. It is located in present day Osun State, with a population of 501,952. Today a mid-sized city, Ife is home to the Obafemi Awolowo University and Natural History Museum of Nigeria. According to Yoruba legend, Ife is where the founding deities Oduduwa and Obatala began the creation of the world, as directed by the paramount deity Olodumare. Obàtálá created the first humans out of clay, while Odùduwà became the first divine king of the Yoruba. The Oòni (King) of Ife claims direct descent from the god Oduduwa, and is counted first among Yoruba kings. Until today many of the surviving cult-groups of the city celebrate the creation of the world during the Itapa festival. Between 700 and 900 A.D., Ife began to develop as a major artistic centre, and the city was a settlement of substantial size between the 9th and 12th centuries, with houses featuring potsherd pavement. Ilé-Ifè is known worldwide for its ancient and naturalistic bronze, stone and terracotta sculptures, which reached their peak of artistic expression between 1200 and 1400 A.D. After this period, production declined as political and economic power shifted to the nearby kingdom of Benin which like the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo, developed into a major empire.

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