Terracotta Ife head
History: Ife sculpted heads, which usually represented royal figures and attendants, were cast from bronze and copper or modeled in clay and then baked (terra cotta). The exquisite vertical striations on this and others like it are thought to represent scarification marks.
Much about how the sculptures were used remains mysterious, but they were often buried at the foot of giant trees and then dug up to be used in annual sacrifices or ritual offerings, before reburial. They seem to have played a role in mediating the relationship between kingship and the collective power of the Ife people.
Origin: Nigeria / Benin