Accession No

Z 14234


Description

Ngene. A carved wooden figure of a person with the biological attributes of both sexes; with breasts and biologically male genitals. Arms by their sides and a large protruding navel. Scarification marks are carved into the face, chest, upper arms and belly, the ankles and wrists are carved to give the impression of bangles and there is a deep groove carved along the length of the back and between small buttocks. The figure is painted in yellow, brown and white, with one leg and side of torso painted white and the other yellow.


Place

Africa; West Africa; Nigeria; Anambra State; Awgbu [Obu]


Period


Source

Thomas, Northcote Whitridge [field collector]; Bevan, Anthony Ashley (Prof.) [monetary donor]


Department

Anth


Reference Numbers

Z 14234; MAA: Z 26292; 378 [Thomas Coll. - 2nd Cat]


Cultural Affliation

Igbo


Material

Wood; Pigment


Local Term

ngene


Measurements

240mm x 1240mm x 230mm


Events

Description (Physical description)
Catalogue card for Z 14234: Used for alusi to keep alive
Event Date
Author: maa


Context (Related Documents)
Pencil drawing on reverse of catalogue card Z 26292.
Event Date
Author: Katrina Dring


Description (Physical description)
Catalogue card for Z 26292: Tall (approx 50"), thin, wooden figure of a man. Half the body is painted white, and half a yellowish colour. It has a very protuberant navel, small penis, and what appear to be small breasts (a hermaphrodite?). It has scarification marks (?) on chest and stomach. The figure has a long thin face and very high forehead.
Event Date
Author: Katrina Dring


Description (Labels & Markings)
Written on rear of leg in pencil: '378'
Event Date
Author: Katrina Dring


Context (Related Documents)
MAA label found around neck reads: 'Z26,292. / Figure of ma. / SABONGIDA?'. Written on rear: 'N.W. Thomas Coll.'
Now stored in bag with object.
Event Date
Author: Katrina Dring


Context (Related Documents)
Annual Report for 1910 records that the N.W. Thomas Collection was purchased with a donation from Professor Bevan.

Event Date
Author: maa


Context (Related Documents)
See E 1910.118 and E 1913.3 records for further details about the Thomas Collection from Nigeria.
Event Date 7/5/2001
Author: Katrina Dring


Description (Physical description)
One of the feet has broken but present. (A. Nadin)
Event Date 31/7/2003
Author: Katrina Dring


Context (Amendments / updates)
Record updated as part of the Museum Affordances project 2018-2020

Event Date 19/7/2018
Author: Katrina Dring


Description (Physical description)
Tall wooden carving of a human figure with small ?breasts and penis, arms by sides and a large protruding navel. Scarification marks are carved into the face, chest, upper arms and belly, the ankles and wrists are carved to give the impression of bangles and there is a deep groove carved along the length of the back and between small buttocks. The figure is painted in yellow, brown and white, with one leg and side of torso painted white and the other yellow. The right foot is broken off at the front of the leg and the piece is stored with the figure. There are signs of historical pest damage.
Event Date 19/7/2018
Author: Katrina Dring


Context (Amendments / updates)
This object had two accession numbers (Z 14234 and Z 26292). The records have now been consolidated and Z 26292 has been deleted.
Place recorded for Z 14234 was 'Africa; West Africa; Nigeria; South Nigeria; ?Obu'
Place recorded for Z 26292 was 'Africa; West Africa; Nigeria; South Nigeria; ?Edo; ?Agenibode'
Neither of these place names is correct and this has now been recorded as 'Africa; West Africa; Nigeria; Anambra State; Nimo'. A photograph in the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI 400.16378) shows it in this location.
The Cultural Group for Z 26292 was recorded as 'Edo; Agenibode'
Event Date 20/7/2018
Author: Katrina Dring


Loan (Exhibition)
Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, 14/10/2020 to 19/12/2020, [Re:]Entanglements
[loan cancelled]
Event Date 14/10/2020
Author: Katrina Dring


Loan (Analysis)
Department of Conservation, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-4 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0TY , 27/02/2020 to 30/06/2020, Museum Affordances Project
Event Date 27/2/2020
Author: Katrina Dring


Conservation (Remedial)
CON.2020.4358 | Remedial
Event Date 6/3/2020
Author: Kirstie French


Context (References)
This figure is discussed in the [Re]:Entanglements Project Blog by Paul Basu and Bill Mastandrea, July 11th 2020, "Collection notes: Ngene alusi figure" (https://re-entanglements.net/alusi/)
The blog includes panoramic photographs from the Thomas collection at the National Museum of Lagos (numbered NWT 3995 and 3996). These show two men dancing in a courtyard type space, with the Ngene figure and other objects arranged at the sides. The photos are captioned 'Chief Dancing' in Thomas' photo album.
The section by Bill Mastandrea discusses some of the discoveries made during conservation of the figure, including the use of adhesive in a historic repair to the foot and the presence of two hand prints on the figure.
Event Date 16/7/2020
Author: Katrina Dring


Context (Display)
On display in [Re:]Entanglements: Colonial collections in decolonial times 22 June 2021 – 20 April 2022, as number '8'.
The open-display plinth recreated the objects featured in a fieldwork photograph in Obu by Northcote Thomas (MAA P.31227).

The display text noted '[Re:]Assemblage. Assembling collections of artefacts was a key part of the anthropological surveys led by Northcote Thomas. During their fieldwork with Igbo-speaking communities in 1910-11, Thomas and his assistants arranged artefacts in front of a canvas backdrop and photographed them as they were collected.
Everyday objects like cooking utensils and storage baskets were placed alongside musical instruments, political regalia, masks and shrine figures. Each item had a label attached with a number, its local name and a brief description of its use. A yam grater was treated no differently to the staff of an ozo title holder.
The canvas sheet was intended to isolate the objects from their local contexts. Our restaging, with its eye-catching backdrop designed by artist Alafuro Sikoki, draws attention to the context of colonial collecting.'

Event Date 22/6/2021
Author: rachel hand


Description (Physical description)
Ngene. A carved wooden figure of a person with the biological attributes of both sexes; with breasts and biologically male genitals. Arms by their sides and a large protruding navel. Scarification marks are carved into the face, chest, upper arms and belly, the ankles and wrists are carved to give the impression of bangles and there is a deep groove carved along the length of the back and between small buttocks. The figure is painted in yellow, brown and white, with one leg and side of torso painted white and the other yellow.
Event Date 7/2/2022
Author: Annie Tomkins


Context (Display)
Label text for assemblage plinth in Re-Entanglements exhibition reads:

[Re:]Assemblage

Assembling collections of artefacts was a key part of the anthropological surveys led by Northcote Thomas. During their fieldwork with Igbo-speaking communities in 1910-11, Thomas and his assistants arranged artefacts in front of a canvas backdrop and photographed them as they were collected.

Everyday objects like cooking utensils and storage baskets were placed alongside musical instruments, political regalia, masks and shrine figures. Each item had a label attached with a number, its local name and a brief description of its use. A yam grater was treated no differently to the staff of an ozo title holder.

The canvas sheet was intended to isolate the objects from their local contexts. Our restaging, with its eye-catching backdrop designed by artist Alafuro Sikoki, draws attention to the context of colonial collecting.

Event Date 27/4/2022
Author: Flo Sutton


Conservation (Assessment Only)
CON.2024.5854 | Assessment Only
Event Date 2/2/2024
Author: Stephanie De Roemer


FM:125104

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