Yoruba Woodcarving

New Characteristics, New Uses


  • Kehinde Adepegba Department of Art and Industrial Design School of Environmental School, Lagos State Polytechnic Ikorodu
  • Oluwaseun Isaac Abati Department of Theatre and Film Arts Faculty of Arts, University of Jos


Yoruba traditional woodcarving has existed for immemorial generations, though the perishable nature of woodcarving makes it impossible to ascertain when it actually started. It is one of the most prominent and profuse art practices of the Yoruba. It is used majorly to service the pantheon of Yoruba gods like Sango, Ogun, Ifa, et cetera, cults like Oro and Ogboni including other religioninclined worships and acts of veneration. It is also used as an
architectural support in the palace and in the houses of Yoruba title holders. Since the contacts of the Yoruba with the agents of westernization such as colonialism, urbanization, education, new technology, Christian religion etc., the traditional Yoruba woodcarving has changed to contemporary whereby it possesses new characteristics and new uses. This paper, therefore, aims at focusing on the transition of Yoruba woodcarving from traditional
to contemporary. It takes a cursory look at the contemporary characteristics and uses of the Yoruba woodcarving that make it different from its traditional forms. Data for the study were sourced from secondary literature and oral interviews The works of a two Yoruba woodcarvers were examined and analyzed using formal and contextual methods, the result of the study found that, the contemporary woodcarving now have dimensions of elongation, abstraction and texturisation and they are now mainly used for adornment of homes, decorative pieces and as a souvenirs. The conclusions were drawn based on the outcome of the analysis.