Until well into the twentieth century, Nupe leaders and other important people commissioned carved wooden doors for the entrances to their compounds as an indicator of their wealth and status. As is typical, this door was created from multiple panels, each of which is decorated with relief carvings. In addition to abstract decorative patterns, representations from the natural world, such as the snake, birds, and quadruped in this example, are frequent subjects. Elements relating to Islam, the dominant religion among the Nupe, such as the Koranic writing board and mosque plans seen here, are often included. Other objects made by people are sometimes depicted, too, such as sandals, guns (one is shown here), and even airplanes.
Nupe peoples, Nigeria
First half of the 20th century
H. 65 ¼ in. (165.7 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 75.24