Is It Time to Repatriate Africa’s Looted Art?

Is It Time to Repatriate Africa’s Looted Art?

We use cookies to make our website work more efficiently, to provide you with more personalised services or advertising to you, and to analyse traffic on our website. For more information on how we use cookies and how to manage cookies, please follow the ‘Read more’ link, otherwise select ‘Accept and close’. The ‘Benin Bronzes’ made of brass and bronze are a group of sculptures which include elaborately decorated cast plaques, commemorative heads, animal and human figures, items of royal regalia, and personal ornaments. Many pieces were commissioned specifically for the ancestral altars of past Obas and Queen Mothers. They were also used in other rituals to honour the ancestors and to validate the accession of a new Oba. A key element of the Benin Bronzes are the plaques which once decorated the Benin Royal Palace and which provide an important historical record of the Kingdom of Benin. This includes dynastic history, as well as social history, and insights into its relationships with neighbouring societies.

Benin Sculpture

It is, moreover, the most highly valued, and indeed, as to a great part of its output, the most over -valued, perhaps because its special characteristics, which are the chief source of its interest for the study of art history, have not yet been fully understood. For, while a study of auction and other prices might suggest a certain evenness of quality, with prices often varying roughly in proportion to size, the story of Bini sculpture is, in fact, one of more or less continuous degeneration from the highest artistic standards in the fifteenth century to something approaching the lowest in the nineteenth.

Benin art, in the forms in which it has become famous in the past six decades, belongs to tribal art only in the sense that the Bini, among whom and by whom it was produced, are a tribe; but so far from being in any full sens the art of the tribe as a whole, it was virtually confined by law within the mud walls of the palace compound at Benin City.

The Bronze Founders, a closed guild occupying their own street hard by the palace under their own Chief Ine, were on pain of death permitted to work only for the Oba, and only he could, and in rare cases did, grant to a lesser chief, for some great service rendered, the right to own a bronze altarpiece or other major work of the guild.

The early history of Benin is not yet known with any certainty, but the internal evidence of the Benin and Ife antiquities accords well with the old Benin tradition that the early Oba Oguola —supposed to have reigned about A.

portrait cast in bronze and placed on an altar at the palace. The altar This example of a brass casting of a Benin head may date to the mid-nineteenth century.

British Broadcasting Corporation Home. This head probably depicts an Ooni, a ruler of the West African kingdom of Ife that flourished between AD and The portrait-like realism of Ife heads is unique in African art. This naturalism astonished art historians when the first Ife heads were brought to Europe in One German explorer even proposed they were made by Greek settlers in Africa – the origins of Plato’s Atlantis myth.

Eighteen heads have been found in total, and their stylistic similarities suggest that they were made by an individual artist or in a single workshop. What was life like in medieval Africa?

Dating benin bronzes, Dating a girl who isn’t a virgin

The Museum is temporarily closed. Learn more and get the latest updates. The Benin Kingdom Gallery tells the story behind these magnificent works—sculptures, relief plaques, ritual objects and regalia—along with the complex history and traditions of the Edo peoples that inhabit the kingdom. Owned by kings called Oba , the exquisitely crafted objects were kept in the royal palace in Benin City, the capital of the kingdom, some playing roles in rituals and annual ceremonies that continue to this day.

On display for the first time in Boston, the 36 objects two Lehman Collection loans are included comprising 30 bronzes and six ivories, all date from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The gallery, which was completely renovated, also includes two early ivories from Sierra Leone and Guinea, crafted by African artists for the European market.

Neutron resonance capture analysis was applied to a bronze commemorative plaque from the West-African country Benin. By comparison with recently.

World Cultures 2 min read. One of the highlights of our World Cultures African collections comes from the kingdom of Benin in Nigeria. This sophisticated bronze sculpture commemorates the sacred person of an Oba or King. Museum reference A. Did you know? Our World Cultures collection includes over 80 objects from Benin. The Kingdom of Benin flourished from the 13th to 19th centuries in southwest Nigeria. Benin culture has long been the focus of attention in the Western world because of the remarkably sophisticated lost-wax bronze castings made by specialist craftsmen for the royal house, which played a variety of functions in court life and ritual.

When the slave trade ended in , the British developed legitimate trading monopolies in Nigeria. The only area that hindered this monopoly was the kingdom of Benin, which remained independent and traded under control of the King, known as the Oba. After attempts to agree terms of trade in , the British sent a military operation against Benin to depose the king through force, known as the British Punitive Expedition.

The Oba was deposed and the accumulated works of art from many centuries which adorned the palace were all removed.

This Art Was Looted 123 Years Ago. Will It Ever Be Returned?

Translate texts with the world’s best machine translation technology, developed by the creators of Linguee. Look up words and phrases in comprehensive, reliable bilingual dictionaries and search through billions of online translations. Look up in Linguee Suggest as a translation of “Benin bronzes” Copy. DeepL Translator Linguee. Open menu.

One of the African Benin bronzes seen in British Museum. 15thth CE Ancient Benin (Nigeria): The bronze head date from the creation of the title of Iyoba.

Either your web browser doesn’t support Javascript or it is currently turned off. In the latter case, please turn on Javascript support in your web browser and reload this page. Read article at publisher’s site DOI : Appl Radiat Isot , , 04 Mar Cited by: 0 articles PMID: Appl Spectrosc , 64 9 , 01 Sep

Nigeria could borrow back its plundered Benin Bronzes: governor

Gareth Harris. A bronze plaque made in the former Kingdom of Benin, which failed to sell at an auction in Paris yesterday, has reignited the debate over the market for cultural property removed from colonised Africa. Prior to the Paris sale, academics raised concerns about the Benin piece. More than 4, bronze and ivory artefacts were seized by the British army from what is now southern Nigeria as part of a punitive expedition in

Benin Bronzes at the British Museum, London, Feb. the fate of its Benin Bronzes, a different set of prized artifacts that date to the 13th century.

Benin Oba and Queen Mother commemorative heads This page is for educational purposes only. I do not have any Benin items in my collection. Benin Oba commemorative heads As a result of the abrupt and violent manner in which most royal art forms of the kingdom of Benin were removed from their original context by the British in , there is a dearth of documentation to situate individual works historically. This has led art historians to propose stylistic theories concerning their chronological execution.

Current leaders of the kingdom of Benin trace their origins to a ruling dynasty that began in the fourteenth century. Brass commemorative heads are commissioned by each oba king in the first years of his reign to honor his immediate predecessor. Although these heads represent specific obas, they are not portraits in the sense that they capture the individual features of the kings.

Rather, they are idealized depictions that emphasize the trappings of kingship. Consequently, the attribution of specific heads to particular obas has eluded scholars. However, since these heads document a unique historical narrative, scholars have attempted to determine the sequence in which they were created based on their stylistic and physical attributes.

The current accepted theory is that the smallest and most naturalistic heads are the earliest, with a gradual progression toward increased size and degree of stylization.

The Art of Benin

Benin history cannot be separated from its artworks, especially its bronzes. In other words, in discussing Benin history, the argument of R. Bradbury that the history of Benin art is itself an important aspect of Benin history cannot be overemphasized, and it is of further significance in that bronzes, ivories, and wood carvings often purport to depict historical personages and events. Therefore, bronzes and ivories are useful as historical documents.

Benin art signifies a process of the production of historical knowledge of the past as it helps to uncover the alternative versions of oral tradition.

Bronze sculptures with clay-core remnants have also been dated in this way, to the Dating of Benin Bronzes (forthcoming; co-authored with Natalie Lawson.

Edo peoples. Over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a remarkable series of some rectangular brass plaques were cast in relief at the Court of Benin by a guild of brass casters for display across at the facade of the royal palace. A seventeenth century Dutch visitor to the court described the sprawling palace complex, with its many large courtyards and galleries: in the largest rooms, wooden pillars were covered from top to bottom with works depicting the array of officials at the court in great detail.

In this example, the king mounting a horse is flanked by attendants rendered on a hierarchical scale that designated their relative rank. Klejman in At the time, Klejman claimed it was “the most important plaque which ever appeared on the market. The 16th century commemorative head of an Oba, and the Queen Mother ivory pendant mask from the same period were purchased the following year. Public Domain. This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left.

Scroll left to view more. Title: Plaque: Equestrian Oba and Attendants. Date: — Geography: Nigeria, Court of Benin. Culture: Edo peoples.

Remarkable Historical Figures of Ancient Benin Kingdom

Please refresh the page and retry. N igeria 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. The Benin Bronzes were plundered from the kingdom by British forces in during a punitive expedition.

Many of these dramatic sculptures date to the thirteenth century, centuries before contact with Portuguese traders, and a large part of the collection dates to the.

Ehikhamenor immediately objected to what he considered to be tantamount to theft, and he took to Instagram to express his displeasure. His audio starts at The report, by the academics Benedicte Savoy of France and Felwine Sarr of Senegal, recommends the return of African artifacts that are being held in French museums. Well before the Savoy and Sarr report was even commissioned, Nigeria was engaged in a similar debate related to the fate of its Benin Bronzes, a different set of prized artifacts that date to the 13th century.

The Bronzes are a collection of over a thousand metal plaques commissioned by the Oba, or absolute ruler, of the Kingdom of Benin, to decorate his Royal Palace, in what is now southern Nigeria. They were archival in nature, establishing a record of events at the time and commemorating royal life, ancestry and trade. They also reflected the prosperity of the Kingdom of Benin, a sprawling empire in West Africa with territory that is said to have reached present-day Togo and Ghana.

Steered by a succession of Obas, it flourished thanks to a thriving trade in palm oil, silver, ivory, rubber and other commodities; it was also heavily involved in the slave trade. The Kingdom of Benin was doing business with the rest of the world, predominantly Portugal, long before colonial incursions into the African continent. The Bronzes were stolen in by a British expedition that was part of an effort to overthrow the Oba, who had refused to bow to British authority.

Benin Bronzes

London CNN More than a century after British soldiers looted a collection of priceless artifacts from the Kingdom of Benin, some of the Benin bronzes are heading back to Nigeria – with strings attached. See more stories from Inside Africa and share your thoughts with us on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what’s happening in the world as it unfolds.

To determine the age and authenticity of Benin bronzes collectors and curators have turned to scientific analyses for certainty. Galleries.

Ife Nigeria bronze casting of a King, dated around 12th century. Collection online showcases more than four million of the Museum’s objects. From Indigenous clothing and Mexican skulls to necklaces made of dolphin teeth, this is one of the most extensive online museum databases in the world. The art of Ife, which flourished from the twelfth to the fifteenth century in southwestern Nigeria, in the area occupied by the Yoruba people, is unique in Africa in representing human beings with extraordinary naturalism.

The subject matter of most Ife art is centered around royal figures and their attendants, reflecting the political structure of a city-state ruled over by a divine king, the Oni of Ife. Sculpted heads were buried in the ground at the foot of giant trees and resurrected….

What are the Benin Bronzes? – The arts past and present (6/6)


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