Heads of an elephant and of a hippopotamus. Ife, Nigeria, excavated at Lafogido, 12th/15th century. Terracotta. National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Abuja, Nigeria, 63/24a, 72/18a
These stylized terracotta heads of an elephant and a hippopotamus are portrayed in the splendid regalia of the ruling elite of Ife, including headdresses and necklaces embellished with beads of different sizes. The association of these powerful animals with political leaders is almost certainly a statement of authority. Elephant and hippopotamus tusks were valuable commodities in the interregional trade that followed the Niger River and connected with trans-Saharan routes of exchange.