Nigeria traditional art involves human being expressing their experience and values through various forms of art and cultural activities. The art and culture of Nigeria typify the clear picture of the Nigerian lifestyle joined with the great history of the past. One of the significant parts of Nigerian art and culture lies in the way that they draw their motivation from the customary society legacy of the locale.

Nigerian culture is demonstrated through art, dance, literature, folklore, and music. The Nok Culture, which settled close to the Benue River and accepted to be one of the soonest memory of the old human settlement in Nigeria is said to motivate the development of social exercises in Nigeria. The real element of the Nok culture is the invention of terracotta figurines and statues and the abundant use of iron in these sculptures. During the 10th century, the bronze work of Igbo Ukwu and the terracottas and metal art works of Ile Ife Bronze decorated with ivory and precious stones became the talk of the town and subsequently gained popularity in other parts of Western Africa.

Instances of Nigerian traditional art

An exhaustive investigation of the Nigerian craftsmanship and culture gives you a look at the common stone carvings, stonewares, diverse types of glass work and wood carvings Bronze works in Igbo- Ukwu, which can be found in Enugu, towers above the ancient works of Nigerian art. The Igbo-Ukwu bronzes with their intricate designs, are well known as Ife works. Famous places such as Benin and Awka are considered to be the center of woodcarving. Woodcarvers have been flourishing all through the south of Nigeria from time immemorial. They make figures for sanctuaries and portrayals of the profound picture of earth, ocean, sky, water, fire and thunder. Excavation of ceramics received a great push with relentless effort of Dr. Ladi Kwali, who promoted his works through the European countries and widely enhanced the art of pottery making in Nigeria. The main centers of pottery in Nigeria are: Okigwe in Imo State and Suleja situated in Niger State. Another prominent craft work in Nigeria is cloth weaving.  The mainstream material weaving focuses in Nigeria are: Abia State, Oyo State and Okene in Kogi State.

List of Nigerian traditional art


Nigeria traditional sculpture

Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving and modelling, in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials. Archaeologists in Nigeria have found a tradition of sculpture making that dates back to at least 500 B.C. Statues and statuettes of ceramics, bronze, terracotta and brass were found in Nigeria. Bronze casting is a traditional art found mostly in the southwestern area of the country. Nigerian bronze work is often used to depict striking realistic statues and masks.


Nigeria traditional mask

A mask is an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance, or entertainment. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes. They are usually worn on the face, although they may also be positioned for effect elsewhere on the wearer’s body. Substantial wooden mask are a piece of the animist confidence of the Yoruba individuals, which pre-dates Christianity in the nation. Mask are regularly painted, and believers wear them at funerals and different functions to alleviate the spirits. During the Yoruba celebration of Gelede, which is commended by the female seniors they use large, elaborately carved masks that portray exact ladies’ countenances and battling creatures.


Nigeria traditional Textiles

A textile is a flexible material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, hemp, or other materials to produce long strands. Textiles are formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, felting, or braiding. The Yorubas use a shrub to create indigo-colored batik-dyed cloth. In Ife, Osogbo, Abeokuta and Ibadan, women traditionally do the dying, while in the north, the craft is practiced almost exclusively by men. Weavers all over the country produce a bright fabric with lace designs. Oyo state is known for its fine loom cloths while cloth from Abia state uses a broadloom technique.


Nigeria traditional Pottery

Pottery is the process of forming vessels and other objects with clay and other ceramic materials, which are fired to give them a hard, durable form. Pottery art is a long standing custom in Nigeria. Pottery was well known from 100 B.C. It was found on the archeological site of Iwo Eleru, and artifacts of terracotta dating from A.D. 800 were found at Ile Ife. Today Suleja, Abuja and Ilorin are considered important centers of traditional pottery, although the craft is practiced throughout the country. Potters in Nigeria are frequently female, and usually practice for the methods to be passed on through families.

Other arts like carved ivory is utilized for jewelry and little beautiful things, and in addition for figures set at special raised areas to pay tribute to the ancestors. Wood carver execute decorative practical implements such as household utensils, yet additionally dolls, decorative panels and entryways for the home. The most well-known woodcarving originates from Oyo, Benin, Awka and Osogbo. woven grass is utilized to make baskets, fans, hats and small tables, while cane weaving makes bigger family furniture, for example, tables and seats. Glass and coral beads are created by craftsmen who usually inherit the profession. The beads are frequentlyconnected to little charms, for example, the ibeji doll, an image of good fortunes.

ibeji doll

Nigerian art has customarily served a social or religious purpose and did not exist for the sake of art. For instance dance was alongside to fulfill some ritualistic goal. The sculptural figure were used in blessings, in healing rituals or to prevent misfortunes. Because of the expanding modernization, however, Nigerian art is becoming less oriented to those particular purposes. To a large extent, Nigerians have abandoned these arts because they no longer served the usual purposes. For instance, the elaborate tombstones once widely created by the Ibibio are winding up progressively uncommon as Western-style graveyards are supplanting customary cemetery.


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