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date: 25 January 2020

Olowe of Iselocked

(b Efon-Alaye, c. 1860; d 1938).
  • Bolaji V. Campbell

Extract

(b Efon-Alaye, c. 1860; d 1938).

Nigerian wood-carver. Little is known of his training except that he moved to Ise to work at the court of the king, where he served as court messenger. He carved for the king of Ise as well as for other regional rulers and wealthy Yoruba families. At one point he had up to 15 apprentices in his studio. He worked within the conventions of Yoruba carving, creating standard forms: multi-tiered house-posts (see fig.), doors, divination bowls and boxes. Yet his treatment was innovative: some of his relief carvings were so deep that figures appear nearly fully round. As can be seen in the door from the palace at Ikere-Ekiti (1906; London, BM), he gave complex and active poses to these elongated, angular figures and applied enamel paint to his pieces earlier than most other carvers. His door panels are sometimes narrative, recording historical events and personages such as British colonial officers. He was known in particular for the attention given to the surface of his works, where hair and jewellery are clearly shown. Two doors included in the ...

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