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Africa Direct

Benin Plaque Edo King Four Warriors Nigeria African Art

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Special Price $177.00 Regular Price $490.00
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Title Benin Plaque Edo King Four Warriors Nigeria African Art
Type of Object Brass Plaque
Country of Origin Nigeria
People Edo
Materials Brass or Copper Alloy
Approximate Age Unknown 20h century replica based upon plaques dating to 1550 to 1650.
Dimensions 10 inches H. X 8.5 inches W.
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 holes, chips at edges, some oxidation

Additional Information: : Bronze plaques with figures of King Oba surrounded by four warriors!. The plaques which were attached to pillars in various rooms of the palace, are conservatively dated to have been made as early as 1550 to the 1650 and apparently fell out of use sometime in the early 1700s. These wonderfully sculpted plaques show ritual and ceremonial events and it is argued by some that they portray historical events and personages. (See Ezra, Royal Art of Benin, 1997, for a full discussion of dates and use of the plaques.)

Brass plaques were cast in high relief using the lost wax technique in combining copper with lead. The russet brown color of the surface comes from the rich red laterite soil of the Benin region. This plaque reflects the technique and high quality of brass casting known a Benin from the 1500s onwards. The wax is modeled to shape the figures and the flat sheet background was decorated with dots and the leaves known as ebe-ame, used in healing.

Benin City was the center of power for the great Edo kingdom from the 1300s to 1897 when the kingdom was overthrown by the British and the Oba exiled. The king returned in 1934 and the kingdom of Benin reestablished though in a diminished form than in the past. This plaque is based upon a 16th century original. 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. This is particularly true when the casting is reversed and one can see the technical difficulty in casting the figures.

For a close example see Ekpo Eyo and Frank Willett, Treasures of Ancient Nigeria, fig.85, p. 138

Recommended Reading:

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.

Ekpo Eyo and Frank Willett, Treasures of Ancient Nigeria, New York, 1980

I have examined this piece and agree with the description
Niangi Batulukisi, PhD.