Archaeology in Southern Africa, £5.00
Carved wooden figure (okega)
Igala, probably early 20th century
Horned carving with figures
These horned carvings usually depict one or more figures, often with a sword or machete in the right hand; similar figures known as ikenga are made by the neighbouring Igbo people. They act as personal Altars of the Hand for Igala and Igbo men and represent their owners' manual prowess and achievement in various pursuits such as warfare, hunting, fishing and farming. Sacrifices are made to these figures before important actions are undertaken, though after the owner dies they are often split and discarded. Personal achievement in the fields of warfare and hunting are no longer so important, though the figures retain the imagery relating to these activities.