Igbo Ukwu

By William Dewey
Pennsylvania State University (formerly University of Iowa)

Nigeria; Igbo Ukwu artist


Leaded bronze

H. 7.6 cm (3")

National Museum, Lagos, Nigeria, 39.1.19

Photo by Dirk Bakker


This pendant, presumed to come from Igbo Isaiah, shares the same scarification patterns as the human figure on the equestrian flywhisk handle. Similar scarification marks were still applied to the faces of Igbo people in the Igbo area of Nigeria where Igbo Ukwu is found and are known as ichi. Men wore such patterns as evidence of a “title-taking” ceremony. In the Igbo area title-taking is the most important way for a man to acquire power and status. One of the highest titles a man can acquire is called Ozo. In the immediate area of Igbo Ukwu, the man who has the most political and religious power has the title of the Eze Nri. The person who was buried at Igbo Richard and was the owner of the regalia at Igbo Isaiah was perhaps a high-ranking Ozo man or the Eze Nri of his time.