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Veranda Post with Divination Priest (Babalawo) and Drummer (work of art)

Artwork Info

Created
1984
Nationality
Nigerian
Birth/Death
1928-2009
Dimensions
101 3/4 x 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches (258.4 x 24.1 x 24.1 centimeters)
Medium
Iroko wood

Credit

Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)

Object Number
2001.9.3
Culture
Nigerian
Classification
Wood
Department
African

Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • A veranda is an open-air gallery or porch (with a roof) that is attached to the outside of a building. This hand-carved veranda post would have served as a column to support the roof of a porch on a cultural center in Ibadan, Nigeria. It is one of three veranda posts the artist created for the cultural center. 
  • This carved wooden veranda post is made up of two human figures who are separated by a patterned geometric form. The figures represent a divination priest (babalawo) and a drummer. The divination priest (top figure) wears a wrap skirt, has an elaborate coiffure (hairstyle), and holds a staff in each hand. The drummer (bottom figure) wears a diamond-and-dot patterned outfit, complete with a hat and a drum. The artist’s signature is carved into the base of the post.
  • Divination is a ritual that is performed to interpret present events and predict what will happen in the future. It is practiced by people in many African communities to help solve problems, cure illness, and make important life decisions.
  • Fakeye, the descendant of five generations of wood carvers, became well known in a tradition in which artists are often anonymous. He trained and traveled throughout the world and created work that connects Nigerian traditions to a globalized, contemporary African art.

Learn More

Lamidi Olonade Fakeye came from a long line of Yoruba wood carvers. After a three-year apprenticeship with a master sculptor in Nigeria, he studied and taught in Europe and the United States. As a student in France, he experimented with stone carving but eventually decided to focus on his personal interpretation of the techniques and styles of traditional Yoruba wood carving. In 1978 he began a 30-year teaching career at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

The artist carved these veranda posts for a cultural center in the city of Ibadan, Nigeria, but the building project was canceled and the commission for a series of posts was withdrawn. At that time Fakeye had completed three of the eight posts he had envisioned. The three veranda posts (all of which are in the NCMA collection) portray, in order: a priestess of Oshun and priest of Ogun, a priest of Shango and bata drummer, and a divination priest (babalawo) and drummer.

tags: function, ritual, community

 

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Images

  • A carved wooden post made up of two human figures stacked one on top of the other and separated by a patterned geometric form. The figure at the top has an elaborate hairstyle and holds a staff in each hand. The figure at the bottom wears a hat and holds a drum in one hand.

    Veranda Post with Divination Priest (Babalawo) and Drummer

  • A carved wooden post made up of two human figures stacked one on top of the other and separated by a patterned geometric form. The figure at the top has an elaborate hairstyle and holds a staff in each hand. The figure at the bottom wears a hat and holds a drum in one hand.

    Veranda Post with Divination Priest (Babalawo) and Drummer

  • A carved wooden post made up of two human figures stacked one on top of the other and separated by a patterned geometric form. The figure at the top has an elaborate hairstyle and holds a staff in each hand. The figure at the bottom wears a hat and holds a drum in one hand.

    Veranda Posts