African art > African bronze > Benin Bronze Portuguese Colon Plate
Benin Bronze Portuguese Colon Plate (N° 10498)
Ex-Belgian tribal art collection.
The mastery of bronze in African art. This exceptional and ancient piece depicts a Portuguese settler.
This character carrying in the right hand what appears to be a firecracker and in the left hand a sword. The shackles (open bronze ring) encircling the figure testify to the importance of the Portuguese to the Oba, king of the ethnic group, and the dominant class of the Kingdom Benin in the 16th century.
Indeed, the tremendous increase in imports of metal in the form of shackles, used as a bargaining chip, provided bronze craftsmen with huge quantities of raw material for their works and contributed greatly to the economic boom. Benin.
The Portuguese is therefore presented here as a provider of wealth. In the 16th century, they played a major role at the oba court: they imported corals and glass beads coveted by the king and his courtiers.
atingly, their soldiers participated in Benin's military campaigns, notably against the kingdom of Idah. The fire fired in the right hand of the character thus attests to the presence of cannons, an unavoidable asset and dreadfully effective.
It is therefore easy to understand the presence of these pieces in the royal palaces of Benin. This bronze art was exclusively reserved for the king's court.