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Object Name: Male columnar figure
Artist: Chamba peoples
Date/Era: Early to mid-20th century
Medium/Materials: Wood, metal
Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Museum Purchase with Funds Provided by J. T. Last.
Accession Number: X2006.18.7a,b
Single and double columnar figures were used among the Chamba peoples as ritual intermediaries. Their iron spikes were inserted into the ground or a piece of wood. The shape of the head crest distinguishes gender. Such figures were collected by German colonial officers during the early twentieth century, and by the 1960s many of the religious institutions of which they were a part were in decline. They were formerly used as a focal point for sacrifices and invocations performed as a part of men?s ritual associations. Their references were several, including individual relatives, the dead as a whole, and specific spirit forces.
Source: Gallery Wall Text, Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley 2011.