Facial Scarification on Ifè Brass Heads: An Alternative Hypothesis and Its Implications.
Akande Adeyemi

The discovery of the Ifè heads in the early 20th century stirred the global art community. By the mid 20th century, the metal heads had become a sensation and source of pride to the Yorùbá nation. Prominent striation on some of the heads however raised many questions as the pattern could not be appropriated into any existing Yorùbá scarification pattern or stylistic philosophy. This paper examines these scarification patterns and explores a possible origin for it outside the Yorùbá nation. The central question of this study is - if the patterns are not indigenous to the Ifè Yorùbá people, who then do the heads truly represent and where are they from? Through formal examination of the pattern on the heads and against the backdrop of historical data, correlation analysis with several facial scarification patterns within a predefined study area was carried out. The findings suggest that the scarified heads are not a representation of any proto-Yorùbá group or practise and that the source of the stylistic inspiration for the facial design is not Yoruba.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jaa.v3n2a2