Igbile Headdress

late 19th–early 20th century

African Art

On view, 1st floor, African Art

This rare headdress could possibly be one of a group of comparable pieces discovered in 1897 by British colonial soldiers close to Ughoton, the port town of the Benin Kingdom. A similar piece at the British Museum, in London, was recorded as having been found in the bush among approximately twenty similar works that were reportedly worn by Benin warriors. The headpieces belonged to a river-spirit cult called Igbile and were probably paraded in the hope of repelling the British troops with supernatural aid. In style they are closely related to works of the neighboring coastal Ijo.


Wood, brass, pigment, and iron nails


24 × 7 1/2 × 7 1/2 in. (60.96 × 19.05 × 19.05 cm)

Credit Line

Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection

Accession Number





19th–20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 297, ill
  • "Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006), 222
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

ceremonial objects, headdress, headgear, masks (costume)

Technical metadata and APIs


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