Jukun Information

Location: Nigeria
Population: 30,000
Language: Kwa
Neighbors: Wurkun, Montol
Types of Art: The first Jukun statue entered the British Museum at the beginning of the (20th) century, but it was ascribed to the Asante. These figures, dressed and bejeweled, generally come in pairs; each eye has a small conical plug of metal; the ears are perforated and decorated with cylindrical elements; the face, with scarifications, is very specific in form, projecting forward and redoubling the plane of the neck. It has often been interpreted as a mask added over a hidden face. A conically shaped hat or an arrow-shaped crest covers the skull. The abdomen is conical, a bulge shapes the shoulders, the breasts are pendulous, the arms long, the hips round, and the hands are wide, marked with deep furrows to depict fingers, while the feet and legs are masses that are less differentiated.
History: Installed on the banks of the Benue river, an important contact point between ethnic groups, the Jukun are descendants of the Kororoga or the Korofora, whose kingdom in the Sudan was very powerful in the fourteenth century. From this era, the architectural ruins of a great center remain, along with a few bronzes, including neck-rests and small animals that serve as boxes. They appeared in the region in the thirteenth century but, until the eighteenth century, were constantly on the move.
Political Systems: The Jukun kingdom had contact with Islam very early on. Under the pressure of the Fulani, the capital was transferred from Biepi to Wukare at the beginning of the fourteenth century. The Jukun were not discovered by the West until the second half of the nineteenth, and their land became an English colony in 1900. Their society was structured into large, extended families who lived on large farms and was run according to the principle of seniority. Each family practiced a cult in it's own sanctuary.
Religion: The semi-divine king, aka uku, is also the great priest. Responsible at one and the same time for the rain, the fertility of the soil, and the security and well-being of the population- and serving as intermediary between the royal ancestors and the living.
Credit: Art of Africa; Kerchache, Jacques, et al, p.545