Yoruba Onile Figures

Yoruba Onile figures from the Ogboni / Osugbo society.

Tribe: Yoruba

Origin: Nigeria

Approx Age: 17th – 19th Century

Materials: Lead filled with clay

Dimensions cm: Both figures 15 (tall)

Ref. Number: 0920/0921


Description: Yoruba Onile figures showing great signs of age and patina. Erosion is visible due to years of libations creating the encrusted patina. These Onile figures are in a kneeling position arms bent at the elbow and folded across the chest with the appearance of hands being clasped together. Very clear facial features, both figures having bulging eye formation, prominent nose, ears and defined mouth, one figure having a hook/loop to the top of its head, giving each figure a sense of great character. A lovely pair of Yoruba Onile figures from the Ogboni / Osugbo society. Provenance: Ex Seward Kennedy Collection


Onile, or “Owner of the House”, are free-standing figures usually found in pairs. They are cast at the founding of a settlement and establishment of an Osugbo Lodge and will serve an entire Lodge. They symbolise the original progenitors, the male and female members of the Osugbo, and by extension the entire community. This very charming Onile couple are representational of the distinctive style used for such figures, with their bulging eyes, elongated faces, broad shoulders and thin arms. The kneeling pose and “devotional” locking of hands at the abdomen may be associated with oath-taking or paying of homage. This small figure is very large in meaning and represents the values and mores that have long been associated with the Yoruba people. Onile figures are of a lead composite and filled with clay. The picture shows an Ogboni society member wearing Edan markers.

Contact Exquisite African Art

10 + 4 =

+44 (0)1507 328026

Follow us

Subscribe to our mailing list

Website Design by Midas Creative

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This