The Nok Terracotas

In western African the Nok people became one of the earliest centers for the development of terracotta figure production and were very technically advanced. The Nok Kingdom are well known for developing extremely unique sculptures and built full sized human statues made from terracotta. The Nok established guilds of specialized artists to create their status and sculptures.




The terracotta’s served differing purposes, for example some were used as grave markers for outstanding people. The artefacts also portray the Nok ancestors, illness, charms to prevent crop failure and infertility. The terracotta’s of Nok depicted the people of the civilization, love, music and warfare. The terracotta’s share some similar characteristic in that the African sculptures usually have almond-shaped eyes and parted lips. Typically, the statues were hollow with numerous openings which facilitated drying and firing and were developed from local materials.


The Nok head fragments were developed individually rather than cast from models and show a high degree of uniqueness. The focus on African heads developed by the sculptors of the Nok Kingdom indicate a focus on intelligence and wisdom. The jewelry of the Nok people is also represented on their artefacts as well as the hairstyles of the women of the kingdom.

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