Ovia Idah

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Ovia Idah (d 1968) was a Nigerian sculptor from Benin city known for his eclectic terracota, ivory and wood sculptors which were influenced by the traditional style of Benin but sometimes he deviated with an inventive use of metals or painting. Idah himself started carving at a young age and was a palace page until the age of fifteen. He then left Benin in 1923 for Lagos where he worked as a Carpenter before he was encouraged to take on teaching art at King's College. While in Lagos, he started carving with the use of ebony, a rarity for Nigerian artists. However, he returned to Benin in 1947 and was encouraged to remain in the city by the Oba. By the time, his works dealt mostly with the city and he later designed many sculptors for the palace of Oba of Benin.

His house which was built at his twilight in a traditional style was adorned with a curved snake walkway, statures of elephants and reptiles and a labyrinth like design of rooms was deemed to be a monument by the Benin authorities after his death. However, the house has been remodeled long after his death with minimal attention given to it by the authorities.


  • Philip M. Peek. Ovia Idah and Eture Egbede: Traditional Nigerian Artists, African Arts > Vol. 18, No. 2 (Feb., 1985).