Mask ornament Omama Orufanran ivory ram Owo Yoruba Nigeria Benin Ifé

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E30 94

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680,00 €

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850,00 €


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Small Yoruba ornament mask called "Omama", carved ivory in the shape of a ram's head, decorative element of an Orufanran: ceremonial costume worn by high-ranking Owo chiefs from the Yorubas in Nigeria (between Ife and Benin), vintage XVII-XIX centuries.

This mask is in good condition and is of a remarkable quality. Provenance private collection.

A note: tiny slots and wear of time, see photos.

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Specimen in worked ivory, prior to 1 July 1947 and therefore in accordance with Regulation EC 338/97 of 09/12/1996 art.2-Wmc.


Among the Owo-Yoruba, a red suit (orufanran) is worn by the highest ranking chiefs as a privilege granted by the king (olowo). On the scales of a pangolin, the suit protects the wearer from damage by making him invulnerable. Under the scalloped shirt, a series of carved ivory ornaments representing powerful animals such as the ram, crocodile, leopard or horse. (According to Ekpo Eyo in 1995 in his presentation at the exhibition "Africa of a continent" at the Guggenheim Museum in New York)

According to Drewal in 1992: "The ram is, along with the elephant, the most important totem of the Yoruba, testifying to the preeminent power and aggressiveness of the one who does not tolerate any rival."

* The Yorubas

or Yoruba are a large ethnic group of Africa, especially present in Nigeria, on the right bank of the Niger River, but also in Benin, Ghana, Togo, and Ivory Coast where they are called Anango.

Owo is a city in Ondo State, southwestern Nigeria. Between 1400 and 1600, Owo was the capital of a city-state of the Yorubas. Oyo Kingdom is an ancient African state, founded in the 15th century by the Yorubas, in present-day Nigeria. This kingdom was limited to the west by the Kingdom of Dahomey, to the north by the Noupé and to the east by the Niger River. Ife is the central city of Yoruba mythology. It is considered the cradle of humanity and the center of the world. According to the mythology of Ife the city was founded by the minor God Oduduwa who was the first Ooni (Ife's own royal title).

Data sheet

  • Height 15 cm
  • Width aux cornes 7 cm