African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Benin Statue

Figure of Portuguese soldier Benin (N° 14946)

This bronze sculpture depicts a Portuguese soldier armed with a rifle, a dagger at the hip, dressed in his traditional military garb. The Portuguese arrived in Benin in the 15th century, endowed with a military arsenal that aroused great interest among kings. The power of firearms was then naturally associated with the occult defense against invisible enemies. In the 16th century, Europeans played a major role at the Oba court: they imported corals and glass beads, shackles also highly coveted by the king and his courtiers. At the same time, their soldiers participated in Benin's military campaigns, notably against the kingdom of Idah. The tremendous increase in imports of metal in the form of shackles, used as bargaining chips, provided bronze craftsmen with enormous quantities of raw material for their works and contributed greatly to Benin's economic development.
Before the destruction of the palace of the Kingdom of Benin in 1897, the divine character of kings, the Oba , was illustrated by multiple works celebrating their power. War scenes glorifying them were reproduced on narrative plates, in bronze, and affixed to the walls. Sumptuous bronze altars, commemorative figures of deceased chefs, majestic felines, heavy bracelets, hairs and recades were produced in quantity in many workshops of smelters according to the technique of cast iron with lost wax.  

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Originex-collection Cordier
EthnyBénin
Countrynigeria
Material(s)alliage de bronze
Height45
Width25
Weight5.50 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°

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