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African art - Bénin:

Beninese art is described as court art because it is closely associated with the king, known as the oba. The tradition of Ifè bronze court objects dates back to the 14th century. The many bronze 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, the ethnic king. These rectangular altars were topped with heads, statues, carved ivory tusks, bells and sticks. They were used to commemorate an oba and to make contact with his spirit.


Couple of Benin altar heads
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African art > African Shield > Couple of Benin altar heads

Benin altar heads in bronze, surmounted by a horn in bronze, sometimes in ivory.

The  commemorative head of a Chieftain  that bears the insignia of a high ranked dignitary, is one of the main characteristics of the altar. The worshipper thanks the head with his offerings and sacrifices. To the Chieftain this altar has a privacy meaning and is placed at the center (the heart) of the house. On the other hand, the ancestors altar is found in the first room, that is allowed to the strangers. Put on the ancestor altar, the head symbolizes the Chieftain  ability to reign and prosper.

Large royal Benin plaque
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African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Large royal Benin plaque

These plates designed for being contemplated like paintings feature scenes of the regal entourage. Occasionnally they would also be used when an etiquette problem has to be faced with. The art of lost-wax casting achieves its

perfection by the depiction of these life scenes in the palace.

 


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Benin Bini Edo Horse rider
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African art > Bronze rider, wooden rider, dogon, yoruba > Benin Bini Edo Horse rider

Benin art is best described as a court art, for it is closely associated with the King, known under the name Oba. The history of court objects made of Ifé bronze comes from the XIVe century.The numerous heads and statues in Bronze produced by Benin metalworkers were strictly destined for the personal use of the palace's inhabitants., and were , more often than not put on altars which were consacrated by the new Oba. Heads, statues , ivory tusks and bells and sticks used to surmount these altars, rectangulars in shape. They reminded of an Oba and were used to get in touch with his spirit.


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Benin Leopard
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African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Benin Leopard

Benin bronze leopard. This bronze sculpture is world wide famous among collectors of Benin bronze. The leopard was a sign of royalty in the Benin kingdom. Large bronze leopard sculptures were cast in the King's palace in Benin. The leopards are designed with unique engravings and as with the other Benin bronzes cast using the lost wax process, the leopards are hollow. A unique piece of art for collectors and ethnic home decorators.


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Couple of Benin Head
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Couple of Benin Head

Benin altar heads in bronze, surmounted by a horn in bronze, sometimes in ivory.

The  commemorative head of a Chieftain  that bears the insignia of a high ranked dignitary, is one of the main characteristics of the altar. The worshipper thanks the head with his offerings and sacrifices. To the Chieftain this altar has a privacy meaning and is placed at the center (the heart) of the house. On the other hand, the ancestors altar is found in the first room, that is allowed to the strangers. Put on the ancestor altar, the head symbolizes the Chieftain  ability to reign and prosper.


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Couple of Bini Edo Benin Leopards
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African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Couple of Bini Edo Benin Leopards

In Benin art, the leopard is the ultimate representation of the Oba. As well as the latter that the leopard shares the same honorary designation of Ekpene. Domesticated, leopards were in the royal menagerie. Leopards bronze decorated the royal altars. Male Leopard : 91cm x 74cm, 27 kg Female Leopard : 78cm x 65cm, 20 kg

Couple of Benin Leopards
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African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Couple of Benin Leopards

Couple of Benin bronze leopards. This bronze sculpture is world wide famous among collectors of Benin bronze. The leopard was a sign of royalty in the Benin kingdom. Large bronze leopard sculptures were cast in the King's palace in Benin. The leopards are designed with unique engravings and as with the other Benin bronzes cast using the lost wax process, the leopards are hollow.


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Oba of Benin
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African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Oba of Benin

Magnificent Oba King made of bronze from Benin . Benin art is described as a court art, for it is closely associated with the King, known under the name Oba. The history of court objects made of Ifé bronze comes from the XIVe century.The numerous heads and statues in Bronze produced by Benin craftmen were strictly destined for the personal use of the palace's inhabitants., and were , more often than not put on altars which were consacrated by the new Oba. Heads, statues , ivory tusks and bells and sticks used to surmount these altars, rectangulars in shape. They reminded of an Oba and were used to get in touch with his spirit.


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