Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Hollow human head made of terracotta about three-quarters life size. Head has narrow facial striations and small eyes; nose and mouth are off-centre. Head leans noticeably to the left. Upright neck has concentric grooves and a flattened base. Hairstyle is in form of eight transverse ridges. Traces of red paint in neck grooves, facial striations, hair and back of neck. Uneven firing has resulted in area of surface blackening across nose and right proper cheek. Terracotta body has small quartz and mica inclusions.


  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 12thC-15thC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 24 centimetres
    • Width: 12.5 centimetres
    • Depth: 16 centimetres
    • Weight: 1.8 kilograms
  • Curator's comments

    Willett (2004) comments on the possible source site of this head (T726). The Iwinrin Grove mentioned in the donor's information remains possible due to the reported large numbers of heads discovered there before 1930. However, the terracotta body with its fine mica and quartz inclusions differs from the composition of other known Iwinrin Grove artefacts. The source of this head therefore remains obscure.


  • Bibliography

    • Willett 2004 Object number T726 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited: 2013 July-November, Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, Origins of the Afro Comb 2014 23 Apr-01 Aug, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2014-2015 13 Dec-15 Mar, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2016 13 Feb-18 Jun, National Museum of Western Australia, Perth, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2016-2017 08 Sep-29 Jan, National Museum of Australia, Canberra, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2017 1 Mar-31 May, National Museum of China, Beijing, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2017 28 Jun-08 Oct, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'

  • Condition

    Fair. Large section of the left proper side of the face is missing. Hair ridges are chipped in places; small chip from left proper side of nose. Surface of face slightly eroded between striations.

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    BM register notes: 'dug up at Modakeke, Ife, southern Nigeria'. Additional note by William Fagg: '?from Iwinrin Grove'.

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


Head figure made of terracotta, pottery.

Head figure made of terracotta, pottery.

Image description



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Object reference number: EAF17360

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