The artistry of Yoruba culture in Nigeria is explored through this door panel.
The door is thought to be the creation of “The Master of Ikerre,” an unidentified Yoruba carver who was active in the early 20th century. The Yoruba people, hailing from Nigeria and the Republic of Benin, have a rich and ancient artistic tradition, deeply valuing sculpture and encouraging artists to cultivate unique styles while adhering to historical norms.
Typically found in important Yoruba buildings like shrines, royal structures, and storerooms for valuables, these doors weren’t intended to illustrate specific tales. Instead, their carved designs might subtly reference historical events, enhancing the prestige of shrines dedicated to Yoruba deities, or orishas. There’s speculation that the carvings on this door could depict the Yoruba civil wars from the 17th to the 19th centuries, or it might have been made for a temple honoring Olokun, the orisha of the ocean. The door’s original location and purpose, however, remain a mystery.
The door panel is made of two pieces and by repetition. Its details include women carrying pots, fish eagles, soldiers, women with babies, men with ceremonial sword & flywhisk, female musicians with rhythm pounders, mudfish, pythons, and twin monkeys.
Source: Denver Art Museum