African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Bronze Benin
Bronze Benin dwarf figure (N° 19010)
Dressed in a loincloth, sporting necklaces of coral beads, the figure depicted realistically offers an imposing head in which the eyes appear blind. Satin black patina.
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In African art, Benin art is described as a court art because it is closely associated with the king, known as Oba.
The dwarves of the king's entourage, which appeared in the 15th century, were intended not only for diversion, but also for surveillance. Occult gifts were indeed given to them. According to Fagg, these characters were also acrobats and illusionists. Their bronze figures were to adorn the altars of the ancestors.
Before the destruction of the palace of the Kingdom of Benin in 1897, the divine character of the kings, the Oba , was illustrated by multiple codified 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 chiefs, majestic felines, heavy bracelets, horses and recades were produced in quantity in many workshops of founders according to the technique of cast iron with lost wax. The art of cast iron with lost wax reaches its perfection by depicting these scenes describing life in the palace. (Benin, ed. Snoeck)
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