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Owo Kingdom, Nigeria

Container, 18th century

H. 23.5 cm (9 1/16 in.)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum, III C 4884 a, b

Like the Benin Kingdom, the ancestral origins of the Owo Kingdom of the Yoruba lie in the ancient city of Ile-Ife. The destinies of Benin and Owo converged again in the 15th century, when Oba Ewuare brought Owo under his control. While Benin’s political and economic control of Owo wavered, its influence on Owo’s artistic and cultural practices is indelible. This 18th-century ivory container seamlessly merges characteristics of the two cultures. Its prominent Edo-inspired imagery includes the grouping of a central figure and two supporting attendants, the fish-legged ruler, and the large python gripping a human figure in its mouth.