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Ceremonial Sword (Ape)

A work made of iron, leather, and ivory or bone.

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  • A work made of iron, leather, and ivory or bone.


Mid–20th century


Ijebu-Owo quarter, Owo, Nigeria
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

With its circular handle, foliate-shaped blade, and detailed openwork, this ceremonial sword illustrates associations between the Yoruba kingdom of Owo and the Benin kingdom to the south. A strong connection between the two existed by the 16th century, and much of Owo’s regalia derived from Benin’s royal court. In Owo ceremonial swords may belong to a king or his chiefs. The openwork on this sword identifies the courtly title of its original owner. Olufowose can be translated as “one who has made money and used it properly,” and Alaijebi means “one who is innocent.” Together the title suggests a rank gained fairly through sudden wealth.


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Arts of Africa




Ceremonial Sword (Ape)


Nigeria (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Iron, leather, and ivory or bone

Credit Line

Gift of Diane Wedner and Ron Ziskin

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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