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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
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.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid