Shrine (Iphri)

Ijo peoples

Not on view

Personal shrines, known as ifiri in Ijo culture, are widespread in southern Nigeria. Such sculptures, dedicated to an individual's power, skill, and aggressiveness, are placed in screenlike fashion, accompanied by freestanding figures, on private altars. Fierce animal imagery is often emphasized, as in the sharp fangs and powerful open jaws of the beast shown here, which fuses elephant and leopard traits. Such attributes relate to the pursuit of warfare and commerce by Ijo men. The human figure seated above the animal represents the shrine's owner holding a cup for pouring libations and a fan, a symbol of his wealth and status.

Shrine (Iphri), Wood, pigment, Ijo peoples

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