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Kings, Crowns, and Rights of Succession: Obalufon Arts at Ife and Other Yoruba Centers

Suzanne Preston Blier
The Art Bulletin
Vol. 67, No. 3 (Sep., 1985), pp. 383-401
Published by: College Art Association
DOI: 10.2307/3050958
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3050958
Page Count: 19
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Kings, Crowns, and Rights of Succession: Obalufon Arts at Ife and Other Yoruba Centers
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Abstract

The copper Obalufon mask from ancient Ife is integrally associated with Ife political rule. Identified with the king Obalufon II in his role first as historic ruler at Ife, then as deity of Yoruba brass-casting arts, this mask appears to have played an important part in Ife coronation ceremonies. Later Yoruba religious arts and liturgies associated with Obalufon reinforce this identity as do a number of other Ife brass and copper works that share coronation themes. It is argued here that the sixteen lifesize cire-perdue heads are also associated with Obalufon, symbolizing the sixteen Yoruba crown states owing allegiance to Ife.

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