About this artwork
Eye-catching beaded regalia are worn by people of political and spiritual importance in a Yoruba community. The motifs and writing on this bag tell us that it was owned by a high-ranking member of the Ogboni society, a group of male and female elders that serve as a balance to the power of the king. Olowo is a senior title in the society and Popoola Oriri is probably the title-holder’s name. The bag’s three stylized faces evoke Ogboni symbolism. Within Ogboni, the number three is said to represent the spiritual qualities of the earth and the earth’s importance in human affairs.
This bag is semicircled in shape, with an attached strap. In addition to the depiction of the three faces, the red, orange, white, and yellow beading creates a pattern depicting two flower shapes and a complex knot form on the front of the bag. Beads and the act of beading hold spiritual associations for the Yoruba. The intensity of the color, the beads’ light-reflective qualities, and the intricate designs have contributed to the high repute of Yoruba beaded work across the world.
—Permanent Collection Object Description
Currently Off View
- Arts of Africa
- Bag (Apo Ileke)
- Cloth, glass beads, and thread
- 22.9 x 21.6 cm (9 x 8 1/2 in.) (excluding strap)
- Gift of Michael, Inez, and Julian Brunner