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Commemorative Head of a Chief (uhunmwun-elao)

Commemorative Head of a Chief (uhunmwun-elao)

On View

Elvehjem : Gallery : 6


To the Edo, the head is the source of personal destiny, individuality, and spirituality. This piece was the focal point of a ceremonial altar. The fishing eagle feather signified chiefly authority; the coral beaded collar and the brass sheathing indicated status and noble ancestry.
Unknown (Nigerian, Edo People)
Commemorative Head of a Chief (uhunmwun-elao)
late 19th-early 20th century
Wood, brass, coconut shell inlay
25 5/8 x 11 x 9 3/4 in. overall
J. David and Laura Seefried Horsfall Endowment Fund purchase
Accession No.


by 1973, private German collection; by 1997-through 2004, Walter Bareiss Collection; 11 November 2004, sold by Sotheby''s New York auction [lot 74] to Elvehjem Museum of Art [now called Chazen Museum of Art]

  • Roy, Christopher D. "Kilengi: African Art from the Bareiss Family Collection." Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997. pp. 45, 301, 406, no. 199
  • Sotheby's, New York. "African, Oceanic, and Pre-Columbian Art." African, Oceanic, and Pre-Columbian Art, Nov. 11, 2004. lot 72
  • Chazen Museum of Art. "Bulletin 2003-2007." Madison: Chazen Museum of Art, 2010. p. 55
  • Schadler, Karl-Ferdinand. "African Art in Private German Collections." Munich: Munchner Buchgewebehaus, 1973. no. 279
  • Rarey, Matthew Francis and Henry John Drewal. "Never at Rest: African Art at the University of Wisconsin." African Arts, vol 53, no. 4 (2020): 68-85. fig. 6

  • Perspectives: African Art from the Bareiss Family Collection: Elvehjem Museum of Art, 4/16/2004-5/15/2005
  • Kilengi: African Art from the Bareiss Family Collection: Kestner Gesellschaft, 1/1/1997-1/10/2000

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