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Commemorative Head of a Chief (uhunmwun-elao)

Commemorative Head of a Chief (uhunmwun-elao)


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, when published in Schaedler''s "African Art in Private German Collections," in the collection of "R. S." (Berlin, Germany); by 1997, when included in a cataloge of the Bareiss Family Collection, in the ownership of Walter and Molly Bareiss (inv. #346); 11 November 2004, sold by Walter and Molly Bareiss via Sotheby''s New York "African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art" auction [sale #N08029, lot 72] to Elvehjem Museum of Art [now called Chazen Museum of Art]. [Last researched by Chazen staff 20 August 2021]

  • 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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