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African, Nigeria, Owo, Yoruba people
Horse and Rider (Jagunjagun Eleshin), probably 17th-18th century, wood.
Purchased with funds from the Alice Speed Stoll Accessions Trust 2003.15

A mounted warrior dressed in body armor and a large helmet sits straight up on his horse with his javelin poised to attack. The lines on his face exaggerate a terrible gaze that is intended to strike fear into the hearts of his foes. Based on this decoration we can determine that the invader is from the northern kingdom of Oyo in Yorubaland and is part of the force that invaded the southern Owo region in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

This piece was likely commissioned as an altarpiece dedicated to Ifa, the god of divination. The unknown sculptor uses intricate carving and zigzag patterns to create detail and character in the clothing, armor and tack on the horse and rider. The sculptural style indicates that it was created in the southern Owo region. Clearly the invaders from the north made a deep impression on the artist and the people who created this piece.




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