The Stone Images of Esie (Eh see yeh) of Nigeria are a collection of about 1000 soapstone figures representing men, women, children and animals. Most were broken; many are very skillfully carved. Their origins are unknown. In 1965 as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Phil Stevens was assigned to repair and catalog the images, to research their possible origins, and to supervise the construction of a secure museum complex. This is the story of this amazing mystery, and of Phil’s work to resolve it.
Phillips Stevens Jr. is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences. As a cultural anthropologist, his research analyzes and traces the roots of religion and spiritualism in human culture. Stevens is also an expert on West African spiritual culture, conducting field work and other research into subjects that include rites of passage and magic, sorcery and witchcraft in the region. His book, The Stone Images of Esie, Nigeria, was published in 1978. In 2012 he was conferred with an honorary chieftaincy title for his work.