Ikenga shrine figure (Three quarters view)

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Item : Ikenga shrine figure, Picture : Three quarters view (approx. 16 Kbytes)

Ikenga is the embodiment of traditional male leadership and power among the Igbo. Men strived to achieve rank and a high title. The shrine expressed their personal spirit or chi, a source of strength and courage. Ikenga visualizes the authority of leadership : the ability to sit in judgment and be a warrior-chief. The symbolic representation of a carved wooden stool strongly resembles that associated with title-taking by elite men. These are often portrayed in representations of seated figures owned by lineage segments in respect of the ikenga cult. The horns refer to the powerful and aggressive nature of the ram. Exceptionally, these are chevron-shaped, and supported by a back to back couple. An ikenga typically received offerings as farm produce (sacrifices for the yam deity, ifejioku), prayers to the physical power (the power of the right hand and arm, the obo, and the right hand cult, aka nri, literally « hand of the food »), and stands for personal determination (ivri) in warrior secret society.
Such ikenga is protected from the profane world of the outside, the village, in the family sanctuary and shrines within (obi). It could be seen as a « shrine within a shrine », symbolizing the okpossi (representing one's personal spirit or chi) in addition to the ikenga cult.
Probably 19th century.

Object #4353

Origin :


Type :


Ethnic group :

Igbo (Ibo) (or Edo)

Material :

Wood with brown patina, traces of sacrificial materials

Size :

H = 14.1 inches

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