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THIS THREAD IS DEDICATED TO NIGERIA'S RICH HISTORICAL CULTURES AND TREASURES INCLUDING KINGDOMS AND CHIEFDOMS..ETC

Nigeria has a rich artistic heritage, including both traditional and contemporary art forms. From the naturalistic statues produced at Ife to the bronzes made for the king of Benin, Nigerian artists have crafted art that is world famous. The terra-cotta figurines of the Nok are some of the earliest
 

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Nok Culture: Terra-Cotta Nok Head



A Nok head, made of terra-cotta, found near Jemaa, Nigeria.

also called Nok Figurine Culture, ancient Iron Age culture that existed on the Benue Plateau of Nigeria between about 500 BC and AD 200.

First discovered in 1928 in the small tin-mining village of Nok, artifacts of similar features were found over an area that stretched about 300 miles (480 km) east to west and 200 miles (320 km) north to south. The most characteristic Nok artifacts are clay figurines of animals and stylized human beings
 

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Louvre deal for Nigerian statues



France and Nigeria have come to an agreement over the provenance of three statues on display at the Louvre museum in Paris.

The three 1,500-year-old terracotta figures, known as the Nok statues, were uncovered during a mining operation in Nigeria in the 1990s.

Nigeria has agreed to allow the statues to remain in Paris on a 25-year renewable basis in return for France's admission that they are undisputedly the property of Nigeria.

The statues left the country at a time when Nigeria prohibited the export of any archaeological relics.

Portraits

In April last year Nigeria officially requested their return.

Nok sculptures are among the oldest sculptures found in Africa.

The small figures are often a series of portraits made out of stone, terracotta or bronze.

Art historians believe they were used as cult objects to commemorate the dead and also as spirit figures for the benefit of the living.

France's minister for European affairs, Pierre Moscovici, has told the French Parliament that the deal between the two countries should be signed in "the next few days".

He was speaking in response to a question in the parliament during an examination of an international convention aimed at stopping the smuggling in cultural treasures.

About $10bn (£7bn) worth of art treasures are stolen and traded around the world every year, according to French insurance group, Argos.

Criticised

Hundreds of primitive art relics have been removed from Nigeria over the last 50 years, with many pieces sold on the open art market.

The former French president Jacques Chirac was strongly criticised when the Nok statues were bought for the Louvre from a Belgian art dealer.

Mr Chirac is a passionate admirer of primitive art and was a key supporter of the Louvre's decision to open a wing of the museum devoted to its works.

The Nok pieces will be displayed in a new museum, currently under construction close to the Eiffel tower in Paris.

Earlier this year the Nigerian parliament called for the return of Nigerian works of art in the British Museum.
 

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Relief Plaque with Horseman



The depiction of equestrian figures on plaques is very rare in Benin. We know of only one comparable plaque, located in Vienna's Museum of Ethnology. Both works depict horsemen in three-quarter profile and feature a three-dimensional rendering of the horsemen's crown and his horse's head. The fact that the headdress extends past the plaque's borders, detached from and towering above the rest of the work, creates an especially dynamic effect.

The headdress and clothing - especially the cowry-decorated tunic - are reminiscent of those worn by the free-standing statues of horsemen; presumably, those equestrian figures represent the same person as the one depicted on this plaque. It is often assumed that all portrayals of horsemen are meant to be the king Oranmiyan because he is said to have introduced horses to Benin. The unusual clothing of this horseman, however, does not support this contention. The headdress, too, is uncommon for Benin, more reminiscent of that worn by kings from Ife.
 

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The Sculpture Queen Mother Head, from Benin



The Sculpture: Queen Mother Head, from Benin

The Date: early sixteenth century

The Medium: bronze

The Dimensions: 20 inches high

In the Collection of: National Museum, Lagos, Nigeria

Native Arts of Africa

The Kingdom of Benin was formed in the eleventh century, and it flourished as a powerful city-state between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries in what is now Nigeria. Early in Benin history,
artists worked primarily for the royal family.
Because copper and zinc, the alloys used to make bronze, had to be imported to Benin, bronze was a potent symbol of wealth. It was also spiritually significant.
The Queen Mother was an important figure in the royal household and was often consulted by the king on important matters.
She was revered for her power and wisdom.
 

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HORNBLOWER



Hornblower
Benin, Nigeria
17th/18th century
Bronze

The figure wears an ornate wrap-around skirt and a poncho that leaves the sides of his torso exposed, held in place with a belt adorned with an animal mask. In typical fashion, the waistcloth is decorated with a stiff, pointed appendage, while the horn is remarkably straight and held in abnormally long hands.

In the Viennese Catalogue (which contains an extensive description of a similar figure), Barbara Blackmun describes the helmet as a "beehive-like cap" adorned with upright feathers "in which a pattern of wavy lines is engraved." Around his neck, the figure wears a leopard-claw necklace.
In the literature, this figure is usually seen as a court official whose job it was to herald the arrival of the Oba's royal entourage with the blow of his horn during public processions. Because the figure is often depicted on plaques alongside warriors, it can also be assumed that he had certain military obligations. Barbara Blackmun suggests that he and other musicians may have accompanied military campaigns. And yet here, the hornblower wears luxurious clothing and is therefore more likely dressed for a specific festival or celebration than for a war
 

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THE MASK WITH HORNS



Efik people, Cross River area. 17th century.
From the “African Vision” exhibit in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. One of 88 objects from a collection of 525, ranging in age from the late 1400’s to the mid-1900’s.
 

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THE MASK, EDO PEOPLE



This mask was made of copper alloy, a mixture of copper and zinc or tin, and iron in the 1700s. It is decorated in the Benin Kingdom court style, by the Edo peoples of Nigeria. All the animals figures on the surface are symbols of the power of the king, or Oba, of Benin, in Nigeria. The oba is the most powerful person in the kingdom and can be generous as well as fearsome. Today, the Oba is HRH Erediauwa, who lives with members of his court in the palace in Benin City
 
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