Likely acquired by FP Pinkett 1895 - 1911.
Fiona Savage:
Bird Figure. Yoruba, Nigeria. Store. Materials: Wood, pigments. Coll: Pinkett

This carved wood and painted sculpture represents either a hornbill or a white chicken. The bird’s head and neck are depicted in a relatively realistic style but its body is abstracted and its stylised feet are shown grasping the domed base. Its beak and eye are painted black and its head is white while the comb or crest is red. The combination of these colours is highly significant as red, white and black are all associated with different states of emotion and physical conditions. Any object displaying all three colours is cautioning onlookers to be wary of it as it is associated with supernatural forces of ambiguous nature.
Hornbills are the focus of many West African folk tales and birds in general are associated with wisdom and the ability to portend future events. White chickens, in contrast are considered to be the most appropriate sacrificial offering as their white colour is linked to coolness and peace.
The function of this object is unknown but this does not preclude it having had a purpose perhaps as an offering for a shrine or as a spokeman’s staff finial or an umbrella finial but as there is no obvious way of fixing it to anything it appears not to have been intended for this purpose. There are no signs of wear so it may also have been carved for the market. It is in good condition and dates to the early 20th century.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Religion and magic
Collection Area Region
Common Name
Simple Name
Production Town
Production County
SW Nigeria
Production Country
Production Year High

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