Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ossining Man

I'm calling this small clay fellow Ossining Man because the previous owner said it had been sold, or maybe given away, by the Ossining Historical Society. Ossining is in Westchester County north of NYC. Was it an end-of-day creation or something made in another country? Whatever its origin, I like the face and the fact that it is quite old. I want to think that it was found in a cave, while knowing that it likely wasn't.


  1. Fantastic! Is it brick or some other type of fired clay? It does seems like it could be an end of day whimsy.

  2. Hi, Joey. It does look like it could have been made by a brick maker.

  3. A dealer friend has identified where Ossining Man came from, and I'm grateful. His words: "The image you posted on your blog that you called Ossining man is an excavated terra cotta fragment of a figure from the Nok culture in Nigeria. It is quite weathered to reveal the granular clay material from that region. The Nok and Jenne cultures were incredibly advanced in their artistry
    and created some of the greatest art from clay the world has ever seen. Very little is known of these great African civilizations but farmers continue to find pieces such as "Ossining Man" which find their way to Europe or the US. I've mounted hundreds of pieces over the years onto bases, many of which are now in museums. The farmers in Nigeria and Mali find this to be a cash crop, which has led to restrictions in exporting the cultural heritage of some countries, which leads to a lucrative black market. You can see some finer examples if you go to Google Images and search Nok terracotta."

  4. Another dealer has chimed in:
    Definitely not Nok. Maybe Bura?