Under the assumption that there is value in retrospectively examining one's earlier research to assess areas of omission or misunderstanding, I write this article some fifty years after my initial research in Ọ̀wọ̀, Nigeria, the capital city of a once powerful, sprawling kingdom on the eastern edge of Yòrùbá territory, bordering on the powerful Edo Benin Kingdom whose capital is a scant 75 miles south.

As a neophyte researcher whose training prior to graduate study was in studio, what attracted me to the study of African art was the thoughtfulness with which African artists translated mental images and ideas into material form. I was entranced by sensitive abstraction in much African art as well as by idealized naturalism of the art of Ife.

My choice of Ọ̀wọ̀ as a research site was inspired by Ekpo Eyo's recent excavation in Ọ̀wọ̀ in 1969, where he uncovered naturalistic terracotta objects whose idealized...

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