X95.36.4 Shrine figure

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Oba (active 1930s-circa 1950)
Shrine figure (Anjenu)
Idoma/Akweya peoples
Early to mid-20th century
Wood, string, beads, pigment
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Kuhn. X95.36.4


The Idoma artist Oba, who lived in the village of Otobi, carved this female shrine figure, called an Anjenu. Anjenufigures attracted nature spirits who dwelled in the Benue and other local rivers and were kept on shrines where offerings could be made. This sculpture by Oba lacks the finesse of the other well-known Otobi artist, Ochai (active 1910–1950), who may have been Oba’s mentor. Their relationship seems to have been unusual since no formal apprenticeship system existed among Idoma carvers.

Source: Gallery Wall Text, Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley, 2011