Shrine Figure (edjo)

Life-sized seated female figure holding a child. Face has rouneded, high forehead, ovoid eyes, flat, rectangular nose and protruding, open ovoid mouth. Pogmented, bilateral scarification patterns of forehead, temples and jowels, at back of neck. Scarification also on upper arms and breast. Pigmented coiffure is elaborate with triangular and dome-like shapes. Necklace and hoop-like ring carved in relief onto neck and shoulders; figure has protruding navel, wears anklets and armlet at elbow, and holds a baby suckling at left breast.
Akpojivi of Orhokpokpo, Urhobo Peoples, Nigeria
The Urhobo carved life-szed figures to commemorate the edjo--spiritual forces that pervade the natural world and embody a communityÕs founding ancestors. Every Urhobo community had its own edjjo installed in a small shrine house that was maintained by the townÕs spiritual leaders. These shrine houses were darkened to keep the figure hidden from view for all all but a few days a year, when large festivals were organized in its honor. Shrine figures could be installed in pairs of male and female, which together manifested the martial power and fecundity of the spirits. These figures embody a classic tension in Urhobo aesthetics--fthey are fearsome to humans, but beautiful to the spirits.
Gift of Robert and Lillian Montalto Bohlen