Mudfish vessel detail “Benin viewed the mudfish as a symbol of power, transformation, and royalty. The mudfish later became a royal symbol because of its unique ability to live in two worlds — having one foot on earth and one foot in divinity” The ancient kingdom of Benin lies in the tropical rain forest of West Africa, next to present-day Nigeria. To reflect the splendor of the royal court, the Oba king commissioned highly skilled artisans to create rare and beautiful works of art in materials such as ivory and bronze. Benin cast bronze mudfish vessel Typical of the artworks created for the royal court were human and animal figures, relief plaques, carved elephant tusks, pendants, bracelets, life size commemorative heads of Obas and queen mothers, and ceremonial objects to adorn the palace and the altars honoring Obas of the past. Many of these objects were intended as objects celebrating ancestors, as war trophies, and as focal points for sacrificial ceremonies. When Europeans first discovered this material in the 17th century, there was widespread disbelief that West African peoples could produce works of such high quality. The skills needed for metal casting were, however, well known in Africa from Senegal on the Atlantic coast to Northeast Nigeria dating as far back as the ninth century.
These artworks glorified the king, as the political and spiritual head of his people, and honored his ancestors. Its wealth of iconographic detail conveys the sumptuousness of the royal court and its historical importance as a regional powerhouse in West Africa from the 16th through the 19th centuries. Importantly, the exhibition marks the first time that masterpieces from Benin – dispersed in European and American collections since the late-nineteenth century – are reunited and interpreted in light of modern scholarship.
Many of these superb works of art are also important ritual objects, valuable symbols of status, or nuanced historical documents that illustrate court ceremonies, versions of which survive to this day.
Apr 01, · The Benin empire was one of the oldest and most highly developed states in west Africa, dating back to the 11th century. The Guinness Book of Records ( edition) described the walls of Benin City and its surrounding kingdom as the world’s largest earthworks carried out .
Obaseki rallies EU museums, others for return of Benin stolen artefacts On 6: Godwin Obaseki, has stepped up the campaign for the return of prized Benin heritage objects looted from the Benin Kingdom during the British invasion of the kingdom in Benin bronzes To assuage the worries of global stakeholders over the safety of the artefacts when returned, Obaseki has reiterated that work on the Royal Benin Museum will be expedited to house the artefacts. Earlier in month in The Netherlands, Obaseki and the Benin Dialogue Group committed to a number of proposals towards the return of the Benin artefacts and the establishment of the Benin Royal Museum in Benin City, in collaboration with local and international partners.
The museum, according to the Benin Dialogue Group, a multi-lateral working group, will be for permanent display of Benin artworks from European and Nigerian museums. The partnership will set a framework for the European partners to provide advice, as requested, in areas including building and exhibition design, while European and Nigerian partners will work collaboratively to develop training, source funding, and legal frameworks to facilitate the permanent display of Benin art works in the new museum.
100 African Cities Destroyed By Europeans
In Western African art in particular, there is a widespread emphasis on expressive individualism while simultaneously being influenced by the work of predecessors. An example would be Dan artistry as well as its presence in the Western African diaspora. The human figure has always been the primary subject matter for most African art, and this emphasis even influenced certain European traditions.
There follows an analysis of Ife terracottas a thousand years later and the famous Benin the second part of the book, illustrated with 68 plates, William Fagg discusses Nigerian art since about , including the remarkable beauty of the Yoruba wood carvings, the masks of the Ibibio and Mama, and the ivories, drums, and other pieces.
Evolution, Race and African Civilisation: The lowest rung was occupied by Aboriginal Australians. Below them were Orang-Utans, which Europeans were originally unsure whether they were human or apes. It is true that physiologically Aboriginal Australians have many archaic features, such as a pronounced brow ridge. This is hardly surprising considering just how ancient these people are, having colonised the continent about 40, years ago. They are, however, just as human as every other part of the human race.
Their facial features are also very close to those of the ancestral humans that colonised Europe at about the same time. Skeletons showing Australian Aboriginal characteristics from that remote epoch have been found in Southern France. He pointed out that the skeletons of the early modern humans — Homo Sapiens Sapiens recovered from that period have archaic features, and are less gracile than African skeletons from the same period.
If you want to put it crudely, at that stage the ancestors of modern Europeans were less evolved than their cousins in Africa. Despite their physiological differences, they were still Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Their appearance does not saying anything about their essential humanity. The first humans to colonise Europe , years ago had similar features Africa:
Nigerian traditional art and culture
Benin was an important empire in the history of Nigeria because it rose to international fame for its artworks Benin Bronze which were exported to different parts of Europe and the rest of the world. It was also the first Nigerian territory that rivaled any contemporary European power in terms of governance and function. Bronze casting in Edo was established in the 14th century by Oba Oguola. Going contrary to this attracted a death penalty.
Of the 28 bronzes in the collection, of particular note is Commemorative head of a defeated neighboring leader (late 15th–early 16th century), thought to depict a foreign ruler subjugated by the Benin army during the kingdom’s expansion in the 16th century.
Summary The latest stand in the analysis of West African bronzes from the point of view of free art brokers and the upmarket art trade. In various articles published in the last two years, Dorina Hecht and Peter Herrmann promulgated aspects of a new interpretation of West African bronzes with a focus on Nigeria. On the one hand, a discerning group of fellow dealers and collectors welcomed our work, happy to have been provided with new material for argumentation.
On the other hand, a small group of doubters regarded our pieces and accompanying remarks with deep mistrust and underhandedly spread all sorts of rumours. As usual, there was also an undecided group caught somewhere in the middle; in the absence of detailed knowledge, it waits with interest to see where the discourse leads.
Because we recently put together a few small experimental series with bronzes from Cameroon, came across new information regarding Nigerian bronzes and were able to evaluate objects from the Paul Garn collection in Dresden, which was acquired in , I decided to resumptively tackle the entire topic of age classification anew. My remarks are based on the assumption that thermoluminescene analyses are widely recognized and accepted.
At present, I know of no one who would seriously challenge these analyses, to which I will henceforth refer as TL analyses for brevity’s sake. And even if there were someone who doubted their accuracy, it could surely be attributed to either misunderstanding or the influence of the systematic denunciations of certain market actors. The world’s most distinguished museums and collections use the TL technique, which also constitutes the basis of much international research.
For us, TL is the foundation of all arguments. The present problem thus begins at the point where TL findings contradict findings derived from metallurgical analyses. At the behest of one of our sellers, three objects from Benin with clear TL-determined ages were tested on the basis of their metallic composition and patina by a German laboratory.
New book: “The Benin Plaques, A 16th Century Imperial Monument”, by Kathryn Wysocki Gunsch (2018)
History[ edit ] Although forms of brass have been in use since prehistory ,  its true nature as a copper-zinc alloy was not understood until the post medieval period because the zinc vapor which reacted with copper to make brass was not recognised as a metal. Many have similar tin contents to contemporary bronze artefacts and it is possible that some copper-zinc alloys were accidental and perhaps not even distinguished from copper. There is good archaeological evidence for this process and crucibles used to produce brass by cementation have been found on Roman period sites including Xanten  and Nidda  in Germany , Lyon in France  and at a number of sites in Britain.
The fabric of these crucibles is porous, probably designed to prevent a buildup of pressure, and many have small holes in the lids which may be designed to release pressure  or to add additional zinc minerals near the end of the process. Dioscorides mentioned that zinc minerals were used for both the working and finishing of brass, perhaps suggesting secondary additions. These places would remain important centres of brass making throughout the medieval period,  especially Dinant.
Get this from a library! Radiocarbon dates and cire-perdue casting in Ife and Benin.. [Frank Willett].
Greece Nigeria could accept the temporary loan of a collection of exquisite bronze sculptures rather than their permanent return by European institutions, including the British Museum, officials have said. The Benin Bronzes are a collection of intricately-worked sculptures and plaques in bronze, ivory, ceramic and wood that decorated the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin, which was subsequently incorporated into British-ruled Nigeria.
Benin was one of the most powerful kingdoms in West Africa, flourishing in the Middle Ages before it was weakened by succession struggles and civil wars. It also leant its name to the modern-day nation of Benin, which borders Nigeria. The Benin Bronzes were plundered from the kingdom by British forces in during a punitive expedition. Nigeria has sought their return since independence from Britain in The loan of the Benin Bronzes back to Nigeria could provide a template for the resolution of other disputes such as the one between Britain and Greece over the Elgin or Parthenon Marbles Credit: In other cases it could be a return of works,” he said.
As part of any deal, a legal framework would have to be drawn up to guarantee the artefacts immunity from seizure once flown to Nigeria. Other countries, including Ethiopia and Greece, have rejected the idea of loans, instead demanding permanent returns on the basis that they should not have to borrow their own pilfered property. Retired hospital consultant Mark Walker R holding two bronze artefacts he returned to the kingdom of Benin in His grandfather was involved in the British raid in which they were taken.
The current king of Benin has already identified a site for a new museum to accommodate the collection, close to his palace. The Benin Bronzes depict scenes from court life involving kings, warriors and royal officials.
What Do You Know About Benin Bronze Figures?
As for the British position that Thomas Bruce, Lord Elgin, had bought the statues quite legally they ended up in the British Museum when he sold them to try to avoid bankruptcy — well, at the time, Greece was under Turkish occupation: But what would have happened to these sculptures had they stayed in Athens? After all, at the time Lord Elgin helped himself the Parthenon was being used as a fortress.
Had the ghastly Lord Elgin not plundered his works of arts, they could have ended up in the footings of some kebab stand. The modern argument is really political — a poor, put-upon Mediterranean culture is demanding restitution from a fading imperial power.
The Kingdom of Ife. This crowned head of a ruler is a remarkable piece of brass-casting which reflects important aspects of the landmark culture developed in Ife, on the lower Niger River, dating.
See Article History African art, the visual arts of native Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, including such media as sculpture, painting, pottery, rock art , textiles, masks, personal decoration, and jewelry. For more general explorations of media, see individual media articles e. For a discussion of the characteristics, functions, and forms of masks, see mask.
The architecture of Africa is treated in a separate article; see African architecture. Overview General characteristics It is difficult to give a useful summary of the main characteristics of the art of sub-Saharan Africa. The variety of forms and practices is so great that the attempt to do so results in a series of statements that turn out to be just as true of, for example, Western art. Thus, some African art has value as entertainment; some has political or ideological significance; some is instrumental in a ritual context; and some has aesthetic value in itself.
More often than not, a work of African art combines several or all of these elements. Similarly, there are full-time and part-time artists; there are artists who figure in the political establishment and those who are ostracized and despised; and some art forms can be made by anyone, while others demand the devotion of an expert. Claims of an underlying pan-African aesthetic must be viewed as highly contentious.
First, in any African language, a concept of art as meaning something other than skill would be the exception rather than the rule.
The Art of Benin Essay Sample
Copy of a Benin head, about 50 years Enlargement of the finished and uncorroded outer surface photo 6 – Enlargement of the unfinished and uncorroded inner surface Establishing the age of objects by comparing the depth of corrosion patinas is not appropriate for all cultures. This method cannot be used for archaeological bronzes unearthed in soils rich in minerals of all kinds.
The Ife-Benin bronzes, on the other hand, all aged in the same climate and the same air. Moreover, in the case of excavated items, the earth in which they were buried was of biological origin. Memorize and look for the following: An authentic corrosion patina cannot be evenly distributed over the whole of the artefact, and neither can it be monochromatic.
Benin “bronzes” were reported as early as the 16th century, but not until the s did they become well-known in Europe. Local traditions indicate that the technique and the first caster came from Ife, in .
Get Full Essay Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues. The trade in objects in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries 2. The imperial confrontations of the late nineteenth century 3. The engagement with ideas about art in the twentieth century B. European Contacts with Benin Europeans first became aware of the existence of Benin through Portuguese traders in the fifteenth century. The accounts left behind indicate that the first contacts between Europeans and the people of Benin were based on the exchange of goods, which included ivory carvings.
Direct European contact with Benin was limited during the era of the slave trade approximately — and little more was learned about the kingdom until British imperial forces conquered it in The encounter between British and Benin culture continues. Migration and globalisation have made people more aware of the way that their different histories are interlinked. In this spirit the British Museum now displays its treasures, including the Benin artworks, as an archive of global, intertwined histories kept in trust for all mankind.
On the other hand, some African leaders and scholars argue that the looted Benin objects fulfil a different function in Nigeria from that represented in European museums and galleries. In Benin, history has traditionally been recorded through the arts — through songs, art objects and ceremonies — rather than written down.
Benin Bronze Slave Trade Procession
It has been a fantastic journey to be able to work on this catalogue, which is now available online here. Like magicians, together with his son, Claude b. At the heart of this momentous strand of last pearls is the Hawaiian god figure lot What we know today is that is can now be appreciated amongst the greatest works of art ever created — equal on the great world stage to any other iconic sculpture to which it could possibly be compared. Important to note that they are each carved from the same wood — metrosideros — or ohi lehua.
These kings made possible the creation of the splendid Benin bronzes; thus, the royal courts contributed substantially to the development of sub-Saharan art. In , heads very similar to those of the Benin Empire were discovered in Ife, the holy city of the Yoruba, .
Stone History of African sculpture Wood is obviously most prevalent being the most malleable and readily accessible material. Yet the longest recorded tradition of sculpture in Africa is figures modeled in terracotta, followed in the 12th Century by the cast-metal sculptures of the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. Nok sculpture Nok terracotta Kimbell Nok terracotta figures found in NW Nigeria represent over two centuries of sculptural tradition and demonstrate that strong abstract figural representation has been a feature in Africa since the 1st C AD.
Nok figures range in size from 10cm to nearly life-size. They have proportionally large conical heads, short tubular bodies and simplified faces with triangular Nok terracotta, Kimbell eyes, flattened noses and wide lipped mouths. The holes in the heads would have been to assist damage during the firing process, letting out steam and preventing cracking. Research and some supposition lead experts to think they were placed in shrines and then buried in graves as offerings to Gods. Ive head, Kimbell years later, heads and figures were uncovered in Ife, Southern Nigeria.
Ife terracotta sculptures date from between the 12th to 15th Century. According to Yoruba belief, Ife was the site where humans were modeled in clay by the divine sculptor Obatala.