House post (Ekiti region, palace of Efon-Alaye)
Carved by Agbonbiofe (Nigerian (Yoruba peoples), active by 1900, died in 1945)
Object Place: Efon Alaiya Village, Editi district, Nigeria
147.3 cm (58 in.)
Medium or Technique
Wood and pigments
Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)
After a fire in 1912 at the Efon-Alaye palace, some twenty-five house posts for an imluvium courtyard were carved about 1912-1916 by Agbonbiofe, master of the Adeshina family of sculptors and bead workers. This pose, one of seven surviving, presents a regal image of feminine power and compassion. Wearing a broad skirt and seated on a stool, her necklace, labret, and towering coiffure affirm her status. One infant on her lap and another strapped to her back are emblematic of royal continuity. Photographs show that this massive architectural element once supported a beam and rested on a carved head, now lost.
From the principal courtyard of the palace at Efon-Alaye [see note]. 1992, Charles Jones African Art, Wilmington, NC; December 26, 1992, sold by Charles Jones to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1994, year-end gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 25, 1995)
NOTE: Photographed in-situ by Elisofon for Frank Willett; dated 1961.
Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel