Lot: 316

84th Tribal Art Auction

Standing male figure "ihambe"

Nigeria, Tiv

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Martien Coppens, Eindhoven, The Netherlands H: 36.2 inch 8000 EUR
plus 21 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, remains of greyish brown patina, rising from a post, the body describing a wide bow when looking at it in profile (repeating the natural form of the branch), eyes inset with metal sleeves, dam., strong traces of insect caused damage (arms and legs/post), traces of weathering, lichen, fissures, plate; large wooden sculptures of the Tiv were called "ihambe". They differentiate in two styles: the "post style" and the "realistic style". Present figure rather belongs to the first type. According to their function, there are different interpretations: some believe them to be images of the ancestors; W. Fagg calls them a kind of "tutelary village guardians" serving to protect the land and its fertility. R. Sieber recognizes that there is a symbolic relationship to manhood and virility. A mixture of all these functions seems to be correct. One "ihambe" statue or a couple of them were placed in front of the family compound. The figures are closely associated with the senior wife/mother of the house. When the latter dies, the responsiblity for the figure/s devolves to the daughter-in-law.

Neyt, Francois, The Arts of the Benue, Michigan 1985, p. 162, ill. IV.1 ff.
Coppens, Martien, Negro sculpture, Amsterdam 1975, ill. 160