News / Africa

Nigerian Ife Art on Display in Houston

A sculpture from the exhibit "Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria", on display in Houston, Texas
A sculpture from the exhibit "Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria", on display in Houston, Texas

Multimedia

Greg Flakus

A collection of more than 100 items of African art is now on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the first stop in a U.S. tour of rare art works from Nigeria's Ife region.

The exhibition is called Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria and features many objects that  museum visitors may find surprising.  Curator Frances Marzio said, "Ife early on protected its patrimony and these objects have, for the most part, never even been outside of Nigeria."

One of the biggest surprises, Marzio says, is the realistic portrayals of royalty and other subjects in terra cotta, stone and metal. "Most of what we think of as African art today are the types of abstract art and wooden art that really influenced 20th century artists like Picasso. So, to see these objects that are made in a very classical way, more like Greece and Rome, I think is a revelation and I think it changes your idea of what African art was," said Marzio.

One example is this statue of a beaded woman called Idena. "This stone sculpture dates from the ninth century and it represents Idena, the gatekeeper, who presided over and protected the sacred grove at Ore. "The Idena statue is seen in a gatekeeper position and wearing a large beaded necklace and beaded bracelets. The wealth of Ife was due to a bead making tradition. They exported their glass beads to the north of Africa and made this area very prosperous," she said.

Marzio says her favorite works in the exhibition are the metal sculptures of human heads. "From the ninth to the 14th century, this area created a number of copper-alloy heads that are unlike anything else we have seen in African art. They have wonderful naturalism. They look as if they could speak or communicate  with you. Yet they have the realism of Roman portraits," she said.

Most of these works date from a period a century before the art of metal sculpture returned to Europe during the Renaissance. Marzio says they show a level of skill similar to that attained by the ancient Greeks and Romans. "We know that there was a long metal-working tradition in Africa from very ancient times, but it is unknown what the origin of these particular heads was," she said.

The exhibit of art from Ife will remain here in Houston through January 9 of next year.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid