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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Nok, Katsina, Sokoto : Nok Terracotta Bust of a Woman
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Nok Terracotta Bust of a Woman - PF.5764
Origin: Northern Nigeria
Circa: 500 BC to 200 AD
Dimensions: 13" (33.0cm) high x 6.25" (15.9cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The artifacts of the ancient Nok people are among the oldest sculptures found in Africa outside of Egypt. Because their existence was not even know until archaeological expeditions in the 1940’s, almost nothing is known of their customs or culture. However, through recent finds, we can determine the expanse of their civilization and the unity of their artistic style. Typical of much later black African art, there is an emphasis placed on the head. The pupils, nostrils, and ear canals have all been depicted by a series of carved holes. This woman has an elaborate coiffure: her hair has been pulled back and gathered into a series of five mounds, one crowning the top of her head and the other four in the back. Her eyes are almond-shaped, characteristic of the Nok style. She grits her teeth in a menacing gaze. Careful attention has been paid to her jewelry. Her neck is covered in a series of bands that cover the tops of her shoulders and fall just above her diminutive breasts. The boundaries of the form are completely cylindrical, as if the Nok sculptural tradition developed from wood and ivory carvings and was transferred to pottery with little experimentation outside the traditional contours. This extraordinary sculpture is the resounding echo of a great culture whose cry has been silenced by time. - (PF.5764)


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