Staff photos by Jon Chase
Following is the text that Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., used to introduce the gift of Nok sculptures to the Rudenstines on May 12:
In a recent Crimson article, Larry Bobo spoke of Neil Rudenstine as a “man of intellect, grace, and poise who has exhibited such strong commitment to values of inclusivity and excellence in the particular form of strengthening Afro-American Studies here” at Harvard.
Tonight, we, the Faculty of the Department of Afro-American Studies and the Advisory Board of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, wish to salute our collaborator and our friend with gifts that also possess grace and excellence as well as classical beauty.
We have chosen two sculptures created by the Nok people of West Africa. The Nok were contemporaries of the ancient Greeks. They lived from 900 B.C.E. to 200 C.E. in what are now the northern and central parts of Nigeria. The reputation of this culture rests on its artistic tradition, especially its naturalistic terracotta figures, which appear to be the forerunners of the famous bronze sculptures of Ife and Benin. The magnificent Nok pottery heads and figures are the earliest known sculptures of West Africa.