The area now known as Nigeria is home to over 350 different tribes. Many of these tribes, some of which date back several centuries before colonization, boasted of several artefacts and monument. Sadly, colonization meant the loss of many of these artefacts, which were flung all over the world. For example, the British conquest of the Benin kingdom led to the looting of over 4000 artefacts.
Here are a few of these artefacts currently being held abroad, despite being established to have been stolen duringconquests.
1. Benin Mask (Queen Mother)
The Queen Mother mask is one of Nigeria’s most popular artefacts. You’ve probably seen it somewhere before. It is miniature sculptural portrait in ivory, depicting the powerful Queen Mother Idia, who lived in the 16th Century Benin Empire.
The mask is currently in the British Museum after it was pillaged during the British Benin Expedition of 1897. Other at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Linden Museum in Germany were also looted during the expedition.
2. The Nok Terracottas
The Nok Terracottas were looted from the Bauchi plateau, where the Nok people are said to have occupied from 1000BC to 500AD. The Noks were iron smelters and is best know for its Nok Terracota which depicts humans and animals with jewellery and elaborate hair. The Nok Terracottas are presently in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
3. The Sideblown horn of Congo
This Sideblow Horn of Congo was looted from the Mangbetu people of today’s Democratic Republic of Congo. The Ivory trumpet symbolises royal power, carved for use by the royal house. They are often decorated with skins and intricate carvings.
4. The Congolese Chokwe mask
The Chokwe masks originated the Congo are scared masks used during crowning stories and sacrifices to the ancestors. The piece currently sits in the National Museum of African Art, Washington.