Igala Idoma Figure Male Nigeria
A distinctive stocky standing male figure originating from the Igala or Idoma people showcases intriguing stylistic elements shared with several small ethnic groups residing in Northern Nigeria around the confluence of the Niger and Benue Rivers. This region, characterized by mixed art and cultural influences, exhibits shared sculptural styles, as documented by Sieber, who observed an Idoma carver learning from Igala sculptors and subsequently creating pieces for patrons from both Igala and Idoma communities (Sieber 1961:9).
Figures like this one served various purposes in the region, acting as guardian spirits for children and symbolizing good luck, healing, and prosperity. The geographical context of the upper Niger River, where it meets the Benue River, reveals broad grassy plains where the Igala people, numbering around 300,000, historically established a robust kingdom. While the kingdom's power has diminished over time, it persists today primarily in ceremonial or ritualized forms.
Complicating matters, the Igala people share artistic traditions not only among themselves but also with neighboring communities such as the Basa-Nge, Isoko, and Idoma, as well as the northern Igbo and several groups along the lower Niger. This rich cultural exchange contributes to the diversity and complexity of artistic expressions in the region.
Approximate Age: Late 20th Century