World Ceramics: Key Ideas

Nigeria, Ife (Yoruba)
Shrine Head
12th-14th century
12-1/4 inches high,
5-3/4 inches wide,
7-1/4 inches deep
The John R. Van Derlip Fund

  • This head of an elite African woman comes from the kingdom of Ife (eé - fay), once the cultural, religious, and political center of the Yoruba people.

  • The shrine head is made of TERRA-COTTA, a naturally occurring clay that is reddish brown in color.

  • The idealized features of this sculptural head suggest it was meant more as a commemoration of someone, rather than an exact likeness. It was probably placed on an altar in the royal palace and used in religious ceremonies honoring ancestors.
    More Information

Key ideas.
Where does it come from?
What does it look like?
How was it used?
How was it made?
How big is it?
Who Knows?
Additional resources.