Yoruba Wood Mask Nigeria
The Yoruba are the largest culture in Nigeria and one of the largest in all of Africa. The scope of their political influence is immense both nationally and in the parts of Nigeria that they occupy. They can be traced back hundreds of years--perhaps even a thousand. Though heavily exploited during the Slave Trade periods, they have steadfastly held onto an enormous and multi-layered set of beliefs and rituals that can still be found today. Almost all of these practices involved some sort of statuary or mask, so the amount of their artistic output is enormous.
Yoruba art is a diverse and rich form of artistic expression that originates from the Yoruba people of Nigeria, Benin, and Togo in West Africa. Yoruba art is highly valued for its aesthetic beauty, intricate craftsmanship, and cultural significance.
Yoruba art encompasses a wide range of art forms, including sculpture, mask-making, textiles, beadwork, and pottery. Yoruba artists are known for their intricate and highly stylized sculptures, which often depict figures from Yoruba mythology and religion, as well as everyday people and animals.
One of the most famous forms of Yoruba art is the Gelede mask, which is used in ceremonies to honor and appease female spirits. These masks are highly detailed and colorful, and are often decorated with intricate beadwork and cowrie shells.
Another important form of Yoruba art is the Ifa divination tray, which is used in the practice of divination. These trays are highly symbolic, and are often decorated with intricate designs and patterns that represent various aspects of Yoruba mythology and culture.
Yoruba textiles are also highly prized for their intricate designs and bright colors. Adire, a type of indigo-dyed cloth, is a particularly important form of Yoruba textile art.
Overall, Yoruba art is an important part of Yoruba culture, and continues to be celebrated and appreciated by people around the world.
The oral history of the Yoruba describes an origin myth, which tells of God lowering a chain at Ile-Ife, down which came Oduduwa, the ancestor of all people, bringing with him a cock, some earth, and a palm kernel. The earth was thrown into the water, the cock scratched it to become land, and the kernel grew into a tree with sixteen limbs, representing the original sixteen kingdoms. The empire of Oyo arose at the end of the 15th century aided by Portuguese guns. Expansion of the kingdom is associated with the acquisition of the horse. At the end of the 18th century civil war broke out at Oyo, the rebels called for assistance to the Fulani, but the latter ended up conquering all of Oyo by the 1830s. The Fulani invasion pushed many Yoruba to the south where the towns of Ibadan and Abeokuta were founded. In the late 1880s, with the help of a British mediator, a treaty was signed between the various warring factions. Yorubaland was officially colonized by the British in 1901, but a system of indirect rule was established that mimicked the structure of Yoruba governance.