Ancient Ile Ife ,Yoruba artifacts sighted in Sweden

Photo By ARL

Ile Ife, the legendary homeland of the Yoruba people of South- West Nigeria today is a vibrant urban center with institutions, including a major University, Museums, a lively market and business establishments with the 51st Ooni Of Ife. HRM Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Akande Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11 (one of the world’s oldest extant monarchies) still as its Traditional Head.

 This exhibition of rare Ife artifacts held in Stockholm Sweden highlights Hundreds of sculptures made out of metal, stone and terracotta telling the story of the ancient African civilization of Ile Ife. It highlights Ife’s most prominent era of the 12th to the 15th century.

Figure of a King, 14th century (copper alloy). Discovered in 1957 by workmen leveling ground for construction at Ita Yemoo, Ile Ife, Nigeria.  Photo By ARL

Yoruba People are not only found in West Africa. Today, many of their decendants live in Brazil, Cuba, Haiti and USA, basically all around the Americas. Together, they are estimated to be around 70 million.

In 1910, the German Anthropologist Leo Frobenius found the copper cast head said to represent the god Olokun and erroneously attributed it to the ancient Greeks.

The year 1938, however, was a turning point in the understanding of the art of Ife. While constructing a house close to the Ooni’s (Ancestral head of Ile Ife) palace. Many of the copper alloy royal portraits in this exhibition were uncovered. 

This discovery confirmed Ife’s place as a World class art-center. Before this, the art was barely known and clearly misunderstood. 

These ancient Yoruba artifacts are on constant Travel Exhibitions around the world. They have not been seen in Nigeria in the last four decades.

Photo By ARL


Possibly ans early 20th- century copy of a 14th- early 15th century original.

Copper alloy, from the Olokun Grove, Ife, Nigeria.

Photo By ARL

Mask called “Obalufon”

14th-early 15th century. (Copper)

From the Ife Palace, Nigeria.

Royal Heads

14- early 15th century. (Copper alloy)

Discovered in 1938 by workmen digging a foundation at Wunmonije Compound, Ife, Nigeria.

Photo By ARL

Rings of Birds Pecking at Bound Humans

14th- early 15th century (Copper Alloy)

From the Wunmonije Compound, Ile Ife, Nigeria.

The images of vultures pecking at bound humans on this shrine object is a sign that rites were properly performed and accepted by the gods.

Photo By ARL

Head with Crown (Ori Ade)

12th-15 century (Terracotta)

Found in 1958 during archaeological excavation at Ita Yemo, Ile Ife, Nigeria.

Photo By ARL

Male Torso

12th-13th century (Terracotta)

From the Iwinrin Grove in 1949, Ile Ife, Nigeria.

Photo By ARL


12th-15th century (Terracotta)

Discovered in 1961 amid collapsed buildings at Olumobi Compound, Ile Ife, Nigeria.

Photo By ARL


12-15th century (Terracotta)

Discovered in 1961 when a fuel tank was being set in the ground near the Ibadan Road , Ife, Nigeria.

Photo By ARL

Terracotta Heads

(L) 12th-15 From the Iwinrin Grove, 1949. Ile Ife.

(R) 17th-19th century. Discovered in 1962 in eroding soil at Ogbon Oya, Ile Ife, Nigeria.

Photo By ARL

Globe-shaped Pot

12th- 15th century (Terracotta)

From the Osangangan Obamakin Grove, Ile Ife Nigera.

Photo By ARL

Ring with Crocodile Heads and Leaves

14th- early 15th century (Copper alloy)

Found in 1943 at Itajero, Ile Ife, Nigeria.

Photo By ARL

Ile Ife, South West Nigeria.

Skeppsholmens Caverns, Stockholm Sweden.

Till this day, new works which tell us even more about Ife’s history are being discovered. 


Bolaji Alonge is an artist, international photographer, actor and journalist from Lagos, Nigeria. His visual language speaks of the wonders of nature and human exchange, urban culture and searches for historical continuity in a world that is sometimes heavily fractured. He is also a globetrotter who has travelled around the world during the last decade documenting exotic culture and history. In May 2017, Bolaji organized his “Eyes of a Lagos Boy” photo exhibition at the prestigious Freedom Park in Lagos.

His second solo exhibition “Urban Culture – Historical Continuity” was held at One Draw Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos in November 2018, establishing Bolaji’s brand of photography to a new audience, receiving great reviews from artists and art lovers worldwide.

 Photos by: ARL  for

Special Gratitude @Skeppsholmens Cavern, Stockholm Sweden.

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