Igbo Ikenga
The Igbo of Nigeria, because of their egalitarian and highly competitive social system, are preoccupied with personal achievement, This preoccupation is reflected in their art in the abundance of ikenga carvings which symbolize personal success and individual attainment. There are basically two forms to the ikenga figures. One is a more abstracted or stylized type, the other more humanistic. Both are in the image of a horned male figure made of wood. In its simplest form, it consists of only a cylindrical block and projecting "horns." The horn symbollizes the aggressive, assertive, and powerful nature of the male animal. The more elaborate type of ikenga, a standing or seated male figure with full head and limbs such as the one seen here, usually holds a severed head in one hand and a machete in the other. These objects can refer to achievement or title taking. If present the stool represents authority and prestige amongst the title-taking individuals of the society. Some of the more elaborate figures can reach up to 6’ high and may have an ornate headdress on top of the regular head and may also have a variety of faces resembling masks. Many ikenga also have marks and symbols added to the surfaces, these in the past have represented the "Ichi" scarification patterns that were also a sign of title. (TT)
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