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Notes on the Geography of Nigeria: Oshogbo: Photo 17

world pictures Nigeria: Oshogbo

Wenger had gotten involved with the forest early in the 1960s, when she volunteered to repair this, the then-decaying First Palace, a shrine close to the river. Funds for the work came, ironically, not from the Yoruba community but from John Picton of the Nigerian Department of Antiquities. (Shades of the British restoring the Taj Mahal and the French saving Angkor!) A few months later Picton saw what Wenger had done and was horrified: “The building had been repaired but instead of the previously aniconic temple and grove we now have a riot of figurative sculpture and ornament.” Picton would later reconsider that judgment, but there is no doubt that Wenger was turning away from classical Yoruba art. Defending her work, she wrote, "We are modern and different, but we walk the ancient grounds." Somebody might argue that she was hijacking Yoruba tradition.

See Peter Probst, Osogbo and the Art of Heritage, 2011, p. 12 and p. 55.

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