Benin sculptors made heads of former kings and queens, which were used in elaborate rituals. These heads were displayed on altars to honor the ancestors of the Oba, who, like the Ife kings, were believed to be gods. Some of the heads have a circular space on top in which elaborately carved ivory tusks were placed.
- 1 What was the head of Benin?
- 2 What does the Benin Memorial head represent?
- 3 What are characteristics of Benin art?
- 4 What is the head of an Oba made of?
- 5 Who stole the Benin bronzes?
- 6 Who made the Benin ivory mask?
- 7 How did the Benin plaques end up in Britain?
- 8 What were NOK heads used for?
- 9 Where do the Edo people display Memorial heads of their Oba’s?
- 10 What is the meaning of Benin art?
- 11 What is the Benin kingdom known for?
- 12 What feature is used in art from Benin royal altars?
- 13 What is a head of an Oba?
- 14 What Oba means?
- 15 How old is the head of an Oba?
What was the head of Benin?
Today the modern city of Benin (in Edo State) is the home of the current ruler of the Kingdom of Benin, His Royal Majesty Oba Ewuare II.
What does the Benin Memorial head represent?
The Edo people have a saying, The head leads one through life’s journey. As the center of vital functions sight, speech, hearing, thought, and will power the head symbolizes the powers of a successful leader. This bronze head cannot be recognized as any particular oba; it was meant to represent the oba’s powers.
What are characteristics of Benin art?
Most of the ancient art of Benin is royal and honors the Oba, or king of the Benin Kingdom. The general aesthetic principles of Benin art, according to Kathryn Gunsch (2018), are triadic symmetry, frontality, alternation, and decoration in the round.
What is the head of an Oba made of?
Head of an Oba 16th century. This commemorative cast-brass sculpture depicts the idealized likeness of an oba, or king, wearing a woven cap of coral beads, with lateral strands of coral suspended around both ears.
Who stole the Benin bronzes?
The Benin Bronzes are a collection of more than 3,000 figures and other decorative pieces looted by the British in 1897. Today they are housed in at least 161 public and private collections scattered around the world.
Who made the Benin ivory mask?
The Nigerian government was unsuccessful in securing a loan of the work from the British Museum, and commissioned Edo artist Erhabor Emokpae to recreate the mask as a 20-foot tall bronze centerpiece for the festival (on display at the National Arts Theatre since 1979).
How did the Benin plaques end up in Britain?
Most of the plaques and other objects were looted by British forces during the Benin Expedition of 1897 as imperial control was being consolidated in Southern Nigeria. Two hundred pieces were taken to the British Museum in London, while the rest found their way to other European museums.
What were NOK heads used for?
Little is known of the original function of the pieces, but theories include ancestor portrayal, grave markers, and charms to prevent crop failure, infertility, and illness. Also, based on the dome-shaped bases found on several figures, they could have been used as finials for the roofs of ancient structures.
Where do the Edo people display Memorial heads of their Oba’s?
In 1897, British colonial forces sacked the Benin palace, taking historical heads such as this one and sending the reigning king into exile. The role of the oba was restored in 1914, and since then the display of commemorative heads has continued in the reconstructed royal palace.
What is the meaning of Benin art?
Benin art is the art from the Kingdom of Benin or Edo Empire (1440–1897), a pre-colonial African state located in what is now known as the Southern region of Nigeria. This original significance is of great importance in Benin.
What is the Benin kingdom known for?
The historical kingdom of Benin was established in the forested region of West Africa in the 1200s C.E. According to history, the Edo people of southern Nigeria founded Benin. Artists of the Benin Kingdom were well known for working in many materials, particularly brass, wood, and ivory.
What feature is used in art from Benin royal altars?
In the Benin kingdom of southern Nigeria, rattle staffs, or ukhurhe, are an essential feature of Benin ancestral altars, whether for kings, chiefs, or commoners. These staffs have a hollow rattle chamber near the summit, and they are shaken while uttering prayers at the altars to attract the attention of the ancestors.
What is a head of an Oba?
The head is an idealized image of an oba, or king, of the Kingdom of Benin (today’s Nigeria). Such sculptural images typically represented the preceding ruler and were displayed at a shrine in his honor, serving as powerful symbols of kingship and lineage.
What Oba means?
Oba means ruler in the Yoruba and Bini languages of West Africa. Kings in Yorubaland, a region which is in the modern republics of Benin, Nigeria and Togo, make use of it as a pre-nominal honorific.
How old is the head of an Oba?
Local Historical Context Creating and displaying a sculpture of the head of a deceased Oba is a tradtion practiced by the people of the Benin Kingdom. This head in particular was sculpted in the late 16th century which puts it near the growth of a new trade route on a historical timeline.