Architecture of Unforgetting
The ‘Benin Expedition of 1897’ was a punitive attack against the Benin Empire during the reign of Oba Ovonramwen by a UK force of 1,200 under Harry Rawson in…
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Man on horse
The style of sitting on a horse is after the princely courtly ride as practiced in the palace as Benin. The style of the sculpture itsekf also fits with the kingdom’s plaques, including details and material. But the piece is listed as Tada Culture and currently being sold out of a gallery in Germany.
Hunter with hunt and totem leopard. Edo, or NOK, Tada, or Ife?
This bronze of Hunter with hunt and leopard was recently listed by an auctioneer in an auction as “Benin Bronzes”, but without exact origin provided. There was no further explanation detailing where and how the sculpture was discovered. If in fact this sculpture was made in the Edo kingdom then it could serve as a way of understanding how Edo, Ife, Tada and NOK culture are related and a long continuum. The scupture is independently dated in auction as approx 800years old.
Wall plaque, Brass (1400s, Edo, Nigeria)
Wall plaques such as these were apparently more common, with geometric perforations and a shield-like construction. Thousands of this plagues, which served as documents, were destroyed in the great fire set upon the city by the British forces.
Terracotta Heads, Edo Kingdom, Benin Empire
According to oral Edo history, by the time the moat was built (1280AD), the use of terra cotta in sculpture was being replaced by brass, which began in early Ogiso Era. By the 15th century, use of terra-cotta in commemorative heads was completely overshadowed by brass, including as well everyday sculpture and objects. These terra cotta heads are commemorative heads, one depicting a crown headdress (1600s) and the other, bareheaded (circa 1400s/earlier or unknown dating).
According to oral Edo history, by the time the moat was built (1280AD), the use of terra cotta in sculpture was being replaced by brass, which began in early Ogiso Era. By the 15th century, use of terra-cotta in commemorative heads was completely overshadowed by brass, including as well everyday sculpture and objects. See the MET link for more on commemorative head terra-cottas.
Carved Tusk, Ivory, Edo, Nigeria 19th c
These were quite common and I recall that we had a couple as family heirloom. The motif I recall were completely of animals (and I spent quite a bit of time as a child copying their stylized renderings in clean, single line drawings. Judging from the motif on the above, the artist who made this may have intended it for the palace.
Military or War Tunic, with brass bells, animal hide and girdle, Edo, 18-19th century
Variations of these are depicted in across the entire bronze and brass plaques. This appear to be later as the fabric (wool/flannel) is imported. One would suppose these kinds of tunics are largely symbolic. Military or War Tunic, with brass bells, animal hide and girdle, Edo, 18-19th century
Revitalization of the palace
A standing traditional sculpture after the ancient themes and stylization of an Oba. The statue stands against a modern wall screening consisting entirely of sunshading breeze blocks. Behind these is the traditional wall washed in traditional white chalk with its characteristic pattern of horizontal ribbed indents.