Figure | Ikenga
Shrine figure, 1900
About the object
Wooden shrine figure, painted with white clay. The figure has been adorned with decorative scarification, the base is truncated and cone shape.
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The figure shows the typical Ikenga motif: a human figure sitting on a stool with horns, painted with white clay. This form of the Ikenga was considered a deity with powers to protect personal safety. Married men possessed their personal Ikengas, which were said to have a protective and vital, energising powers. The statues are related to the idea of the right arm as the seat of the man's power, strength and assertiveness, which was particularly widespread among the Igbo. Upon the death of its owner, the statue would be destroyed. In the Ikenga cult, the central focus was n individual's quest for achievement and the motivation to take destiny into his own hands. Through sacrificial offerings, the Ikenga were asked to promote individual success, such as good fortune when out hunting or skill when trading and to elevate social status within the group. Today, the Ikenga cult has largely lost its traditional meaning. However, the motif remains widespread.