Traces of a mighty civilisation (SPÅR AV EN MÄKTIG CIVILISATION)

Traces of a mighty civilisation until February 24, 2014, you have the chance to see some unique African art in Bergrummet at Skeppsholmen in Stockholm.

Exhibited are over 100 sculptures in metal, stone and terracotta from 1100 – to 1500s that tell the story of the African civilization Ife, its origin in the Yoruba and in Nigeria today. The exhibition depicts Ife’s worldview, rituals and religion and provides a picture of a society that was one of the most advanced of its time.

The cavern is in itself worth a visit. It was built during the Second World War as a base for a Navy Commander and his staff in the event of war. Since 2010, it has been used for special exhibitions.

by Margaretha Holmqvist 

Ooni Obalufon II
Ooni Obalufon II

(PHOTO) Royal guise. This bronze mask is said to depict Ooni Obalufon II, regent of Ife during the 1300s. The mask is equipped with holes for seeing and breathing and is believed to have been used until it was moved to the Nigerian National Museum last century. It is a testament to the craftsmen’s skills, that the mask is made of substantially pure copper, which is usually difficult to mold in.

Awunrin Olojo
Queen Awunrin Olojo

(PHOTO) Internal head. This conical head is believed to represent Queen Awunrin Olojo. Conical and cylindrical heads, placed on the altar, may have symbolized the spiritual side of the individual – the inner head.

a man with enlarged testicles
a man with enlarged testicles

(PHOTO) Documented illness. This terracotta figure made between 1400 and 1100 hundreds, shows a man with enlarged testicles, probably due to elephantiasis disease. A fearsome, but not unusual mosquito-borne disease.

Contemporary Ife.
Contemporary Ife.

(PHOTO) Contemporary Ife. Ife is today is a vibrant urban center with a large university, museums and is also a lively place of trade and commerce. Ife is the homeland of the Yoruba people. The Yoruba are known for their artfully knotted headscarves called the Gele.



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  1. Tidningen Kulturen

    “Afrika har mycket att lära oss, så missa inte denna enastående utställning.”
    Tidningen Kulturen
    “Africa has much to teach us, so do not miss this outstanding exhibition.”

  2. Svenska Dagbladet

    “… höstens (hittills) finaste utställning…”
    Svenska Dagbladet
    “… This finest exhibition this fall (so far) …”

  3. “Utställningen i Bergrummet imponerar och då inte bara för att dessa skulpturer gör sig så bra i denna bergrumsmiljö. Den ger också nya perspektiv på Afrikas historia…”
    “The exhibition in Bergrummet impresses, not only because these sculptures are displayed so well in this rock shelter environment. It also provides new perspectives on Africa’s history …”

  4. Hallands Nyheter

    “Precis som de mer kända konstverken i Rom ger de afrikanska mästerverken en känsla av vördnad över den kultur som fanns en gång och som ännu känns levande.”
    Hallands Nyheter
    “Just like the more famous works of art in Rome the African masterpieces convey a sense of awe for the culture that once existed and which still feels alive.”

  5. Elle Interiör

    “En mycket intressant utställning med fantastiska konstverk från en rik kultur som knappt nämns i de västerländska historieböckerna.”
    Elle Interiör
    “A very interesting exhibition of amazing artwork from a rich culture that is barely mentioned in Western history books.”

  6. Dagens Nyheter

    “Estetiskt raffinemang som krossar våra fördomar”.
    Dagens Nyheter
    “Aesthetic sophistication that crushes our prejudices.”

  7. The Guardian

    “En exceptionell utställning… med mästerverk, i nivå med Kinas terrakottaarmé, Parthenon och Tutankhamons mask.”
    The Guardian, när utställningen visades på British museum 2010.

    “An exceptional exhibition … with masterpieces, on par with China’s Terracotta Army, the Parthenon and Tutankhamen’s mask.”
    The Guardian, when the exhibition was shown at the British Museum in 2010.

  8. “… once-in-a-lifetime, revolutionary event”
    The Times, 2010