Lot: 25

Rare shrine sculpture "ogun"

Nigeria, Yoruba

Provenance Size Hammer price
Valentine Faulkner, Reverend of the Church Missionary Society (collected in situ, 1866-1883, when he worked among the Yoruba)
James T. Hooper (1897-1971), Arundel, Great Britain
Sold by the family in 1976
Christie's, London, 14 July 1976, Lot 27
German Private Collection
H: 27.6 inch 6000 EUR

wood, heavily sweating sacrificial patina in places, handwritten inventory no. "H.1797", old label with heavily faded writing: "This idol represents "Shango", God of Thunder. Ogun, God of War. Lent by Rev. V. Faulkner"

"Ogun" is considered the Yoruba god of iron and patron of warriors and blacksmiths. He is in charge of all products made by them - all instruments of creativity and battle. Iron title staffs ("iwana ogun") for the chief of the blacksmiths are made in the name of "ogun".

Pemberton reports that figural sculptures were rarely placed at "ogun" shrines. Rather, metal instruments tied with palm fronds, resting upon pieces of "okuru" stone, mark "oguns" presence. However, among the southwestern Yoruba, one will occasionally find sculptured figures associated with "ogun" worship on shrines for deities of whiteness, "orisha funfun" - deities associated with life and health.


Phelps, Steven, "Art and Artifacts of the Pacific, Africa and the Americas. The James Hooper Collection", London 1976, p. 387, plate 230, no.1797 Waterfield (Hermione) and Jonathan C. H. King, "Provenance: Twelve Collectors of Ethnographic Art in England 1760-1990", Paris-Geneva: Somogy-Musée Barbier- Mueller, 2006:113 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSmxxOz-d_s&ab_channel=BritishPathé

ADHRC: 0108997