Ikenga shrine figure (Front view)
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Item : Ikenga shrine figure, Picture : Front view (approx. 21 Kbytes)


Ikenga is the embodiment of traditional male leadership and power among the Isoko, Ijo, Igbo and Urhobo peoples. 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 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. 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. 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.
19th century or earlier.

Object #5408

Origin :

Nigeria (Area of the Niger Delta)

Type :

Statuary

Ethnic group :

Igbo (Ibo)

Material :

Wood with aged red-brownish patina, traces of sacrificial materials

Size :

H = 9.6 inches

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