The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Art of Medieval Africa

What kind of art was made in Ile-Ife?

Ile-Ife was the capital of the Yoruba people of Nigeria from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, an era known as the Pavement Period due to the Yoruba practice of paving parts of the city with rectangular rows of stone and pottery fragments laid out in a herringbone pattern. Ile-Ife was an important center for the arts, and the Yoruba established a long tradition of portraiture, including works in stone, wood, and terra cotta, as well as later works in bronze, brass, and other metal alloys made using the lost-wax casting method. Portrait sculpture played an important role in ritualistic ancestor worship, and sculptures were often ornately decorated with veils, wigs, crowns, or neck rings, particularly during important ceremonies.


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