Kingdom of Ife Storms the British Museum

Seated Figure, Bronze - Ife. c. Karin L. Willis/Museum for African Art/Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments

The British Museum in the UK is currently exhibiting about 100 sculptures in its Kingdom of Ife Exhibition.  It is of course lovely to experience these pieces of art upfront but some have been asking the questions that nobody seems comfortable to answer just yet about African treasures showing up for display everywhere else but in Africa.

It is said that the curators of the exhibition are very keen on pointing out that the pieces on display are mostly on loan from the National Museum in Lagos.  We keep hearing of all the great pieces the National Museum has in its possession but can we ask how come they are never shown right here in Lagos?

Either way, if this is right up your alley, go take a look at the British Museum.  The Kingdom of Ife exhibition runs until June 6, 2010.  Tell us what you think!

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3 thoughts on “Kingdom of Ife Storms the British Museum

  1. @indonesian: OMG! It was not. I’m sick of people that think that Africans can’t come up with anything on their own.

    Indonesians did not go anywhere and most certainly not to Nigeria. Indonesians introduced it my foot. Soon you’ll be telling me that palm trees were introduced to Nigeria by Malaysians.

    There is no proof because it NEVER HAPPENED. Lost Wax was developed by US! By OUR ANCESTORS. First we have to deal with white people questioning our intelligence now we have to deal with Indonesians trying to take credit for our methods and technology. Freaking get lost!

  2. Re: ‘Kingdom of Ife’ Exhibition at the British Museum.
    It is unfortunate that reviewers of the above exhibition in the Guardian, Times, Financial Times, Telegraph, Independent and Sunday Independent have all ignored an important part of Africa’s history which may well have had a vital bearing on the Art of Ife in Nigeria,
    Since early in the first millennium AD,and possibly much earlier, Indonesian mariners had been regular visitors to the shores of Africa. The first inhabitants of Madagascar were Indonesians who came via the African mainland; and in all probability the ancient maritime people, the Zanj (Azania, Zanzibar and Tanzania) who occupied east Africa before Arabs and Persians took over were also Afro-Indonesians.
    Although they left no written records, there is circumstantial evidence that Indonesians went further and rounded the Cape, and settled along parts of the western coast of Africa, and penetrated up some of the great rivers. Such evidence can be found in the distribution of yams, plantains, maize and a number of other non-African plants; in elephantiasis (the disease famously depicted in an Ife sculpture), which had oriental origins; in musical instruments, for example the xylophone; in crafts connected with glass-making; in the use and distribution of Indian Ocean cowrie shells as ornments and money; and in connections between some of the most fundamental beliefs, such as Nigeria’s Ifa divination and very similar belief systems in the western Pacific.
    As it is generally accepted that the technique of cire-perdue casting was introduced to Nigeria from outside Africa, Southeast Asia must be considered as a likely source. It is also likely that Buddhist overtones in some of the Ife figures had a similar origin. Proof is hard to come by; but so much circumstantial evdience pointing to Southeast Asian connections should not be ignored by the critics.

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