Tiv Ihambe ‘Post’ Figure with Janus Faces

The Tiv: Benue, Nigeria


Carved Wood


24cm x 24cm x 240cm

The Tiv played a predominant role in the history of the Benue state and also in Nigeria. When they arrived at the end of the 17th Century they deeply affected the life and relationship among the peoples living on both sides of the Benue. The Tiv brought with them their own material culture, but because their worldview was one of great openness to other art forms, their sculptural traditions came to reveal influences borrowed from nearby groups.

The statues of the Tiv have an underlying magical meaning. These highly unusual sculptures are not representations of ancestors but of tutelary guardians often connected with initiations. These objects date back to the 18th/19th and 20th Centuries and all carry the distinct mark of the magical – religious and socio-political traditions of the region.

These very rare “Post” style forms, which ranged in various sizes, are completely unique to the region and the individual features used in the carved items differentiate them from other cultures. Often male and female figures are placed to the right of the entrance to the first wives house to protect the family.