Extant Traditional Art in Post-Colonial Presence: The Lineage Wood Carvers in Iseyin, Nigeria
According to the postcolonial theorist, Hamadi (2014), colonialism imposes a language and a culture whereby the cultures, histories, values and languages of the colonized are often ignored by the colonizers. At the end of such colonization, the colonized suffers oppression and suppression of identity, loss of culture, ethnic inferiority and a struggle for proper portrayal in global circles. The impact of colonialism has persisted in post-colonialism; however remnants of the colonized have also persisted in continuity of cultural practices, but not without changes. This paper is a study on the extant woodcarving lineages in Iseyin, in northern Yorubaland. In this technological 21st century, it is noteworthy and interesting that traditional woodcarving has continued to be practiced in the ancient town Iseyin, though dwindling. There had been other artistic practices that existed alongside woodcarving in the past, such as leatherwork, indigo dyeing, brass-casting, bronze-casting and beadwork, which are no longer continued in the town. The survival of traditional woodcarving in Iseyin therefore requires an art-historical investigation and documentation, as it is in the risk of extinction in the near future. This is the main aim of this paper. The study adopted a methodology comprising of field investigation and literature review. Nine woodcarvers purposively selected from the lineages of Olumole, Ayelade, Pete and Atena were interviewed and many others were observed at work. Oral historians and elders from the town were also interviewed. Several wooden artworks were photographed for analysis and visual documentation. The findings show that the artists still carve traditional themes such as Ifa paraphernalia, masks and utilitarian objects. In conclusion, there is a struggle by the lineage woodcarvers to remain relevant in postcolonial presence, which may succeed or perish.
Keywords: Art, Iseyin, Lineage, Postcolonial, Traditional, Woodcarving