Original

Igbo names and spellings for various settlements
Abakaliki is Abankaleke; Afikpo is Ehugbo; Awgu is Ogu; Awka is Oka; Bonny is Ubani; Enugu is Enugwu; Ibusa is Igbuzö; Igrita is Igwuruta; Oguta is Ugwuta; Onitsha is Onicha; Owerri is Owere; Oyigbo is Obigbo... any more will be added.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

African (Igbo) Art’s Influence in Late 18th Century Virginia

[Left] Wrought-iron figure made by an African in Alexandria, Virginia, late 18th century. Height 11 in (27.9 cm). Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC. [Right] Alụsị figure, Christie's.

Douglas Chambers (2005, Murder at Montpelier, p. 174) suggests that this figure may have been influenced by Igbo arts. The slave trade in the Bight of Biafra, where the densely populated Igbo homeland sits, reached its peak in the late 18th century, the largest African ethnocultural group in Virginia at the time were Igbo, many of the men were skilled blacksmiths which is a profession that carried spiritual weight in Igbo society along with iron itself. The semi-representationalism and elongated stance of the figure made by an anonymous African is characteristic of Igbo ancestral shrine figures in contrast with neighbouring groups with more stout and realistic features.

Maybe the figure was struck as a personal ancestral figure of an African-Virginian to an Igbo ancestor, maybe even a blacksmithing figure from back home or Virginia, an object of religious worship, or all of these things.

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