african masksEdo-Benin
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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

African Art books I like | Genuine African Masks

Edo Benin peoples

Bariba-Benin.jpg (99228 bytes)

A Bariba, Benin terracota pot 40cm

According to tradition, the Kingdom of Benin was founded from Ife, whence, in the late 14th century, knowledge of Brass casting may have been introduced into Benin City for the manufacture of commemorative heads for royal altars.

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 These heads have been grouped in stylistic sequence from moderate naturalism through increasing stylization. The brasses also include figures in the round, groups on a common base, and plaques. The rectangular shape of the plaques, their narrative content, and in some cases their attempt at perspective have been attributed to the influence of illustrations in books carried by the Portuguese, who were in contact with Benin from the late 15th century. The technique of brass casting, however, had been introduced at least a century earlier. Bronze bars had been imported, probably from the interior, as early as the 13th century, but these were made into bracelets in Benin City only by smithing and chasing techniques, not by casting. There were certain limitations on the use of brass, and also ivory. Cult objects (such as memorial beads) were made of wood when intended for non-royal purposes but of brass for the king. Regalia, if made for the king, were of ivory, but otherwise of brass. The regalia of king and chiefs also included coral beads and red cloth, the colour red signifying a mystical threat to the enemies of the kingdom. Wood was used for staffs commemorating ancestors, and these were placed on their altars. Pottery heads were made for shrines in the brass casters' quarter; and life-size groups of royal figures in mud are still made for the cult of Olokun, divinity of the sea and of wealth.

Outside Benin City, the Edo peoples live in villages that have many localized cults of nearby topographical features and founder heroes. The Ekpo masquerade, occurring to the south and east of Benin, is performed by the warrior age group in ceremonies to purify the village ritually and to maintain health. At Ughoton, to the southwest of Benin, a different type of mask is used, in the cult of the water spirit Igbile. Both the cult and the sculptural style seem to have derived from the Ijo.

A number of bronze castings found in Benin have been classified tentatively as the Lower Niger bronze industries. They include pieces from Tada and Jebba in the region now inhabited by the Nupe people, who regard them as relics associated with their own mythical ancestor, and other pieces from various parts of the delta of the Niger River.

To learn more on African art buy The Tribal arts of Africa (the link goes to the Amazon page from this book)

It contains more then 800 illustration and basic explanation making it easy to recognise and put attributions on African art items.

READ ALSO on Benin art bronzes sold at auction Benin bronzes 

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Bronzes from Ife and Benin Exhibition from February 3 to April 14, 2007

 

 

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In this section:
Start
Omhoog
Nigeria
Ijo
Daima-Sao
Nok
Yoruba-Ife
Edo-Benin
Dogon
Mali-Map
Fon
Urhobo
Djenne-Mopti
Dogon-Tellem
Senufo
Dowayos
Bura
Darfur
Timbuktu Manuscripts 

African art books

The Tribal Arts of Africa

The Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

more African Art books I like


read also : Start ] Nigeria ] Ijo ] Daima-Sao ] Nok ] Yoruba-Ife ] [ Edo-Benin ] Dogon ] Mali-Map ] Fon ] Urhobo ] Djenne-Mopti ] Dogon-Tellem ] Senufo ] Dowayos ] Bura ] Darfur ] Timbuktu Manuscripts ]

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