Hausa Nupe Hunter Bird Headdress Nigeria
A hunter's headdress carved and worn by the Hausa. The base attaches at the forehead and give the wearer the appearance of a bird. Many examples of the form use a real bird beak rather than carved wood. Wrapped in leather and equipped with strap.
The Nupe people are an ethnic group of about 500,000 individuals who have traditionally inhabited the region near the confluence of the Niger and Kaduna Rivers in what is now Nigeria. Despite being often associated with the Hausa people due to their geographic proximity, the Nupe are not related to them or any other ethnic group in the area. They have their own distinct language, which is unrelated to any other known language.
The Nupe have a rich artistic tradition, although their artistic output has been limited due to the influence of Islam, which has controlled their social and religious life for at least 250 years. Islamic law prohibits the use of art objects depicting human figures, considering them to be profane. As a result, the Nupe developed a remarkable skill for decorating utilitarian objects with intricate geometric incising.
The popularity of Nupe art among serious collectors is a testament to the skill and unique adaptability of the Nupe artists in the face of social upheaval. Despite the limitations imposed by Islamic law, Nupe artisans have managed to create visually stunning and highly valued objects through their mastery of geometric designs and intricate incising techniques.
Historically, the Nupe were subject to the rule of the Igalas, who themselves were subjects of the Kingdom of Benin located about 150 miles down the Niger River towards the coast. The Nupe's mythology reflects their relationship with the Igala people, likely influenced by the violent subjugation they experienced at the hands of the Hausa and later the Fulani in the 18th century.
Overall, the Nupe people have a rich cultural heritage and artistic tradition, characterized by their unique adaptability in the face of religious and social constraints. Their art continues to be highly respected and sought after by collectors for its beauty and historical significance.
Approximate Age: 20th Century