A Brief history of Culture and Art in Nigeria.
There is evidence of developed culture in Nigeria, including art, starting with the Nok culture around the 7th century BC. The Sokoto culture developed around the 3rd century BC, and the town of Ife was founded around 800 AD. The Yoruba trace their earliest ancestry to Mecca during or just after the time of Mohammed, but Ife is the original home of Yoruba culture. The Edo people from Benin can be traced to around 900 AD, and there was a period of major expansion by its warrior kings around the 15th and 16th centuries. Both the Edo and Yoruba people developed a rich tradition of artistry in wood, brass, and ivory. In fact when the British sacked Benin City in 1897 they took over 2,000 of the royal artifacts back to London. To this day many of these pieces can be seen in the British Museum in London, the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin, The Michael C. Rockefeller Collection at the Metropolitan (New York), and other museums around Europe.
This rich tradition of West African fine art developed throughout this region of what is now South West Nigeria. To this day the cities of Oyo, Ife, Ibadan, and Benin City are known for their exceptional art works. Quoting from “World Art Africa” by Peter Stepan he notes “The bronze and brass sculptures created by Ife court metal crafters are technically and aesthetically among the finest of their kind. Their beautiful modeling and impeccable casting initially led Europeans mistakenly to assume that they had been imported from Europe…they marked a culmination of African realism….observers were so struck by the naturalism of the Ife heads that they thought they must be individual portraits.”
From this we know that there is a long tradition of the arts in South West Nigeria. Some of our modern artists can trace their roots back to ancestors who practiced their craft in these royal courts of days gone by. While this art has been classified as “primitive” by some, a former curator of the Metropolitan Museum in New York described a particularly fine ivory carving of Queen Iyoba thusly “The beautiful carving is on a par with the work of the greatest portrait sculptors of renaissance Europe, and the magical piece admirably sums up the strength and subtle, power and delicacy of African Art.”
Even today there is a very active arts scene in Nigeria carrying on the traditional as well as exploring new territory. HEVASOF represents some of the finest carvers and artists in S.W. Nigeria. They range from the very experienced, some with over 40 years in their craft, with some very talented up and comers with less than a decade of professional carving. Appreciated as home décor, office décor, or as collectables these fine masks, statues, and wall hangings will hold a special place in your heart.
To find a bit more history and culture click one of the links at the left. Over time we will add more pages and more history for your enjoyment and instruction. Our desire is to create a more informed and tolerant view of this exciting culture and expand your understanding with these wonderful stories, characters, and fine art works from S.W. Nigeria.
We truly are interested in your comments and questions, so please don't hesitate to contact us. Please enjoy the site. You can purchase from our existing art, or make requests for custom pieces simply by contacting us firstname.lastname@example.org. We love creating African art, African masks, Benin bronze, and wood carvings to your specifications.