Human Head Pendant, 9th-10th century AD
7.6 (height) x 4.1 (width) x 5.5 (depth) cm
Igbo-Ukwu, Nigeria


This human head pendant, made using the lost-wax casting method, was one of hundreds of bronze ceremonial objects and regalia unearthed at the site of Igbo-Ukwu, in south eastern Nigeria. This head was discovered by accident in 1938 by Isaiah Anozie when digging a water cistern in his family compound.
A large suspension loop on the back of the head suggests that it was to be worn as a pendant around the neck. Facial scarification on the cheek, temples, and forehead corresponds to that typically associated with ichi, a title held by men of status in Igbo society. Coloured glass beads would originally have adorned the loops of the elaborate conical hairstyle.
Igbo-Ukwu’s vast repository of intricately worked bronze and copper artefacts created using indigenous techniques, are the earliest recorded cast bronze sculptures in west Africa, making this one of the most significant archaeological discoveries ever made on the continent.


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