Ife Bronze Head - Ooni (King)
The beautifully detailed original brass sculpture represents the Ooni, or king, of the Yoruba Peoples of Ife, and dates to around the 14th-15th century. The original Ife head was discovered in Ife, Nigeria, in 1938, and is an extraordinary example of the sophisticated naturalistic craftsmanship found in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The handsome head is portrayed wearing a decorative crown, detailed with carved beads and braiding, while the Ooni’s skin is carved with striking lines surrounding realistic facial features. Rows of holes represent neat facial hair, and the skin of the neck is grooved to represent creases in the skin.
According to oral traditions of the Yoruba people, Ile Ife is the sacred place where life and civilisation began. The sacred Ooni is still revered as the descendent of the original ancestral spirits or Orisha.