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Benin Bronze Collar Nigeria African Art

Product #: 112747
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Title Benin Bronze Collar Nigeria African Art
Type of Object Cast Sculpture
Country of Origin Nigeria
People Edo People
Materials Bronze / Brass
Approximate Age Unknown  
Dimensions Height: 4 Inches
Width: 11.75 Inches
Depth: 11 Inches
Overall Condition Good.  Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair Some Oxidation on the surface, holes, cast flaws

Additional Information:  The famous royal center of Benin in Nigeria produced a number of remarkable objects and bronze heads cast in bronze including the original of this late replica that was also cast in Nigeria. Benin City was the center of power for the Edo people and the place of residence for the Oba, the ruler. This is a head of an Oba based upon a 14th-15th century original and is a stylized portrait of a man at the Court of Benin. That this is a replica cannot be doubted, but what is important to note is that the skill of the Nigerian bronze and brass casters of today who cast this head continue a tradition nearly 500 years old at Benin and have not lost their skill in producing interesting works of art. 

Benin heads were kept on altars. The hole in the head was to support an ivory tusk, intricately carved. For exquisite examples of heds, and an article on them. Benin art is royal art, made to glorify the great king, or OBA, who is considered to have divine ancestry. The brasscasters guild historically worked primarily for the monarchy, with smaller pieces being available to chiefs. It has been in existence since the fifteenth or sixteenth century. Most castings are brass (an alloy of copper and zinc with traces of other minerals.) although some are made made of bronze (an alloy of copper and tin with traces of other metals.) Without doing an analysis on each piece, it is not possible to know the content. Benin castings were all made by the lost-wax technique, which produces one-of-a-kind pieces. A core of clay is covered with wax, which is then carved into the exact shape which the artist wants the finished piece to have. Additional wax ""pipelines"" are made for the wax to exit and gases to escape. The wax is then covered with a layer of fine clay, with succeeding layers, each coarser than the previous one. The mold is then heated, which melts the wax and fires the clay into a solid mold. The empty space is filled by pouring in molten brass. After the piece cools, the clay mold is broken, revealing the metal piece ready for polishing. 

See more information and examples in:

Augustus Pitt-Rivers, Antique Works of Art From Benin, 1900 

Hagen, Dr. K., Altertumer von Benin, Jahrbuch der Hamburgischesen  Wissenschaftlichen Anstalten, V. XVII, 1900.

H. Ling Roth, Great Benin, Its Customs, Art and Horrors, 1903 (1968).

Dark, P. J. C., W. & B. Foreman, Benin Art,1960.

Dark, P. J.C., An Introduction to Benin Art and Technology, 1973.

Ben-Amos, P. The Art of Benin, 1980.

Freyer, B., Royal Benin Art, 1987.

Ezra, K., Royal Art of Benin, The Perls Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992.

Duchateau, A., Benin, Royal Art of Africa from the Museum fur Volkerkunde, Vienna, 1994.

Anitra Nettleton (Ed), Nigeria Art. The Meneghelli Collection, 2002.