African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Head Benin
Head Benin (N° 12898)
African art Benin.
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This zoomorphic head refers to the rich symbolism attached to the leopard, king of the bush. It also embodies the qualities that the Oba must possess. In the Kingdom of Benin, the killing of the king of animals associated with legends, the leopard, was the privilege of the leader, the Oba. The feline could then serve as an offering for the cult of the head of the chief. Sometimes tamed by various royal guilds, he accompanied the chief on his travels. The Oba, named "false of the house" leopard, could also offer teeth or skin to commanders whose loyalty was evident. The rich benign iconography is therefore full of references to this animal. Before the destruction of the palace of the Kingdom of Benin in 1897, the divine character of the kings, the Oba , was illustrated by numerous works celebrating their power. War scenes were reproduced on narrative plates, in bronze, and affixed to the walls. Sumptuous bronze altars, commemorative figures of deceased chiefs, heavy bracelets, hairs and recades were produced in quantity in many workshops of foundry according to the technique of cast iron with lost wax.
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