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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Benin Brass Hip Ornament
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Benin Brass Hip Ornament - PF.4936
Origin: Southcentral Nigeria
Circa: 18th th Century AD to 19th th Century AD
Dimensions: 6.5" (16.5cm) high x 3.75" (9.5cm) wide
Collection: African
Style: Benin
Medium: Brass

Location: UAE
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The master sculptors of Benin created some of the most distinctive and beautiful works of art anywhere in Africa. This is not to say they were uninfluenced by art from other regions; and in this very lovely hip ornament we see traces of different cultures which may have inspired the artist. The basic style of the face is typical of Benin bronzes, with its elongated forehead, narrow chin and delicate detail. The striations or scarification on the face are reminiscent of Ife terracotta heads, and it is not unreasonable to assume a Benin artist came into contact with works of his neighbors. The snakes surrounding the forehead, slithering down the nose and forming a beard-moustache add an unusual aspect, and remind us of the Djenne culture which venerated snakes as symbols of fertility and power. This mask would have been worn by an Oba as part of his court dress at important ceremonies. The closed eyes and small lips give the ornament a gentle quality, as if he is dreaming of something very beautiful. To be in its presence is to feel at peace, as if we too are part of its pleasant dreams. - (PF.4936)


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