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FOUR YORUBA FIGURES
FOUR YORUBA FIGURES
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FOUR YORUBA FIGURES

BY THOMAS ONA ODULATE OF IJEBU ODE (C. 1900-1952), NIGERIA, 20TH CENTURY

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FOUR YORUBA FIGURES
BY THOMAS ONA ODULATE OF IJEBU ODE (C. 1900-1952), NIGERIA, 20TH CENTURY
Depicting a colonial couple, a missionary, a golfer and golf caddy
The golfer: 10 in. (25.5 cm.) high
Special Notice

The VAT treatment will depend on whether you have registered to bid with an EU or non-EU address: If you register to bid with an address within the EU you will be invoiced under the VAT Margin Scheme. If you register to bid with an address outside of the EU you will be invoiced under standard VAT rules.

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Benedict Winter
Benedict Winter Head of Sale, Junior Specialist, Decorative Arts

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Lot Essay

Thomas Ona was fascinated by costume and portrayed both Yoruba and Colonialists with their accoutrements of power. Although his subject matter is innovative the figures are carved in the traditional manner in soft wood using an adze and a knife. The proportions are also long-established as the Yoruba people regard the head as the most important part of the person so it is always many times larger than life-size. However, whereas traditional Yoruba carvings are sculpted from a single piece of wood, Ona's carvings are frequently made from a number of pieces and whereas traditionally vegetable dyes would be used, Ona coloured his sculptures using red and black ink and white shoe polish, often leaving some areas, including the flesh, in the natural wood colour. Although Ona's carvings have sometimes been identified as satirical, Ona said, circa 1940, that "his works simply showed how he viewed the world around him" and indeed if one compares the treatment of the facial features, particularly the eyes, to those of Ibeji from Ijebu-Ode, one can quite clearly see that they are carved in a traditional manner and are not caricatures. For further information on Ona's sculptures see M. Graham-Stewart, Africa; Relics of the Colonial Era, 1991 and M. Stevenson and M. Graham-Stewart, The Mlungu in Africa, Art from the Colonial Period 1840-1940, 2003.

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