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The literature on Yoruba sculpture and sculpture-related problems is extensive, but as yet there is no publication which describes the true range and depth of the art.
This bibliography, therefore, is designed not as an exhaustive survey but as an aid to further research. The list has two sections: the first contains sources on the Yoruba, the second, general handbooks and exhibition catalogues. Asterisks in the index mark those works which provide the most detailed, careful, or latest studies
of a given subject. Certain kinds of research concern the relationship between Yoruba sculpture and the arts of Nok, Ancient Ife, “Great Benin”, Esie, and the traditional sculpture of contemporaneous neighboring peoples.
In the interest of brevity however, most references on these other styles have not been included. Much unpublished data has also been excluded; for this kind of material the student is referredto the archives of the Western Region Secretariat (ibadan, Nigeria), the archives in the Nigerian Museum (Lagos), and the IRAN archive (Porto Novo, Dahomey). In addition to commonly known types of wood sculpture — figures, masks, headdresses, staffs, house posts, and doors — Yoruba artists created works in wrought iron, brass, pottery, ivory, beads, leather, and stone. Most of these objects served various cults, each of which has its own repertory of songs, dances, and symbols.
The richness and complexity of this sculpture is a function of many interrelated factors: over five million people divided into ethnic sub-groups unified by language; an old and unusual tradition of urbanism; an extensive pantheon of spirits (brisa), at least twelve of which call for sculptural forms recognized across Yoruba land; an elaborate cosmology; a complex social and political organization; a frequent interaction
of sculpture, music, and dance; and a well-developed sense of artistic quality. Only recently, however, have scholars begun to communicate the originality of Yoruba artistic thought and the complexity of iconography, and to classify sculpture into styles and schools.
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