Lot: 281

85th Tribal Art Auction

Figure "iphri"

Nigeria, Urhobo

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Helen Kuhn, Los Angeles, USA
Dave de Roche, San Francisco, USA
Scott Rodolitz, New York, USA
H: 23.8 inch 6000 EUR
plus 21 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, partly encrusted patina, remains of pigments, phantastic being with a wide open teeth-revealing mouth, crowned by a pair of wing-shaped horns and four small half figures, dam., insect caused missing parts, cracks, traces of abrasion, base; "iphri" imagery represents a powerful visual statement of all aspects of male aggression. The "iphri" embodies both positive and negative values, both defensive and offensive aggression. It allows an overly contentious individual to contain his ill will and empowers the warrior to defend his home. Each "iphri" was originally owned by a single individual, usually a prominent warrior and was kept in his house. After his death it stayed there for many generations, being maintained by his sons and grandsons. As the family grew larger, the image was transferred to the collective meeting hall of the lineage. The "iphri" must be fed. Offerings are presented to its open mouth. This feeding must be done every four days. If one fails to perform regular feeding, it is said that the "iphri" "gets hungry" and may become troublesome.

Foss, Perkins (ed.), Where Gods and Mortals Meet, New York 2004, p. 60, ill. 35