Artists & Designers

Arowogun (Aerogun) of Osi-Ilorin (c. 1880-1954)

Arowogun, a celebrated master sculptor and a contemporary of Olowe of Ise, was born around 1880 in the village of Osi in the Ekiti region of northern Yorubaland. The sculptor was known by his praise name Arowogun, which refers to his occupation and is a short form of Aerogun-yanna—"one who gets money with the tools of Ogun and spends it liberally." Ogun is the patron saint of those who use iron tools, including blacksmiths, carvers, hunters, soldiers, and in today's world, truck drivers and all who use machinery. Arowogun did not come from an artistic family but was allowed to pursue carving. He was apprenticed to Bamgbose of Osi (known for multifigured Epa masks, oloju foforo face masks, figurative house posts, and palace doors) for sixteen years and to Fasan of Isare for some years before he was qualified to be his own master with apprentices. Toward the end of his life, Arowogun carved Christian themes for the Roman Catholic Church in Oye-Ekiti. He was about seventy-five years old when he died in 1954.

Adapted from

  • Roslyn A. Walker, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 276.