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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Benin Bronze Head of an Oba
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Benin Bronze Head of an Oba - PF.5418
Origin: Southcentral Nigeria
Circa: 1600 AD to 1800 AD
Dimensions: 6" (15.2cm) high x 3.25" (8.3cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Bronze

Location: United States
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A high crested headdress crowns this sculpture of a Benin Oba, having a triangular base decorated with six incised squares and edged in plaited braids. The upper portion is a thick curved braid attached to the base by five “spokes.” Two braids hang down the back of the head and along the sides of the face, which split at the bottom into two sections. The simulation of beaded work and woven fiber is characteristic of Benin bronzes, beautifully representing the ceremonial ornamentation of the Obas. The face has sunken eyes, an open mouth revealing teeth, and scarification in the form of six raised cicatrices on the forehead. When a new Oba is crowned, one of his first acts is to commission a bronze head of his father to place on the family altar. This is a way of paying homage and making a connection with the spirit of the former king though a beautiful work of art. - (PF.5418)


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