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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Greatest Yorubaland African Sculptor

Greatest Yorubaland African Sculptor

Olowe of Ise African Art Histories Greatest Yorubaland African Sculptor

Eastern Yorubaland in Nigeria Africa was borne the most important African sculptor of the 20th century, Olowe of Ise. Born around 1875 Olowe of Ise made Yorubaland one of the most important centers of Yoruba wood art carving.
Yoruba African Sculptor Olówè of Isè
Yoruba African Sculptor Olówè of Isè

Sculptors are known for their three-dimensional artistic creations. Throughout history, there have been famous sculptors who have withstood the test of time. However, it is difficult to know much about the great sculptors of ancient Africa, one name has stood the test of time, Olowe of Ise.

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Olowe of Ise early life and training in sculpture are unknown.

Who is Yorubaland Olowe of Ise

Yoruba African Sculptor Olówè of Isè
Yoruba African Sculptor Olówè of Isè

Olowe of Ise descendants claim he was self-taught, but it is likely that he learned the Yoruba canon and perfected his carving skills during an apprenticeship. Eventually, he became a master artist at the King's palace, and as his fame grew, other Yoruba kings and wealthy families commissioned him to carve architectural sculptures, masks, drums and other objects for their palaces.

Among the Yoruba such elaborately carved and decorated bowls were prestige objects used to offer kola nuts to guests or to deities during religious worship. Olowe was an innovative and virtuosic, even daring, artist as demonstrated in this sculpture. The image of four dancing girls on the lid, for example, is the first such representation in Yoruba art. 

Olowe's choice of dancers raises questions about his inspiration. Olowe also depicted nude males, one of whom is kneeling, on this bowl. Such renderings are exceptional and challenge the Yoruba canon.

African Artist Olowe of Ise famous wooden bowl carving
African Artist Olowe of Ise
famous wooden bowl carving 

Who are the Yoruba?

The history of the peoples that constitute the present country of Nigeria dates back more than 2,000 years. The earliest archaeological finds were of the Nok, who inhabited the central Jos Plateau between the Niger and Benue rivers between 300 B.C. and 200 A.D. A number of states or kingdoms with which contemporary ethnic groups can be identified existed before 1500.

Long before the 1500s, much of present-day Nigeria was divided into states, which can be identified with the modern ethnic groups that trace their history to the origins of these states. These early states included the Yoruba kingdoms, the Edo kingdom of Benin, the Hausa cities, and Nupe.

The most populous country in Africa and the largest in area of the West African states, Nigeria was an early twentieth century colony that became an independent nation in 1960. A country of great diversity because of the many ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups that live within its borders, Nigeria is also a country with a long past.

Of these, the three dominant regional groups were the Hausa in the northern kingdoms of the savanna, the Yoruba in the southwest, and the Igbo in the southeast all internally subdivided along with the Kanuri, Ibibio, Tiv, and Ijaw.

The Yoruba were organized in male-headed groups that occupied village communities, but from about the eleventh century A.D., village compounds began to merge into a number of territorial city-states creating large well-connected independent states.

Did you know?
Olowe of Ise worked in the small town of Ise in southwestern Nigeria, Yorubaland and is considered as the most important Yoruba artist of the 20th century. Yorubaland African sculptor Olowe of Ise saw in every rough block of wood a thing of beauty. His famous artwork a wooden bowl carving is a fabulous example of his challenging sculptural work.

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