African art > Bronze rider, wooden rider, dogon, yoruba > Benin rider
Royal equestrian figure Bini Edo Benin (N° 17780)
African art from Benin is described as court art because it is closely associated with the king, known as the Oba. The tradition of bronze court objects in the Benin kingdom dates back to the 14th century. The many brass heads and statues created by Benin artists were reserved for the exclusive use of the inhabitants of the royal palace and, more often than not, placed on altars consecrated by each new Oba. These rectangular altars were topped with heads, statues, carved ivory tusks, bells and sticks. They were used to commemorate an oba and to contact his spirit.
Beninese artisans also produced figures of horsemen on horseback, representing either a Beninese king or a Yoruba emissary of the Oyo cavalry, depending on interpretation. It could also be Oranmiyan, who imported horses to Benin around 1200. In 1505, the king of Portugal sent a horse and a silk and linen suit decorated with coral beads to the Oba Esigie, who made his annual appearance perched on a horse followed by a procession of servants.
(Source: "Benin" ed. Snoeck)
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