Altar Figure of a Bird



This figure of a ‘bird of disaster’, ahianmwen utoye, underlines the Oba's powers to control his own destiny and that of his kingdom. It commemorates a famous event in the early 16th century when Oba Esigie defied the bird's prophecy of disaster and won an important military victory. This bird was originally purchased for the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in 1931. The trustees of the Wellcome Collection presented the bird to the World Museum via the British Museum in 1949.