Guinea Coast, Nigeria, Benin Kingdom, Edo, , early 19th century
Diameter - w:26.80 cm (w:10 1/2 inches)
Overall - h:9.00 cm (h:3 1/2 inches)
The purpose of this ring remains uncertain, although it may have served to encircle bronze heads like the one displayed here, or other offerings on an altar. The main theme is one of sacrifice. The central figure with conical headdress holding a sword and axe is probably a king. He is flanked by two ritual stool-containers known as erhe and attendants with a container and a fan. Vultures peck at mask pendants and the necks of two decapitated human victims, their arms bound behind them. Other celebrants play drums and hold containers. It seems likely that the scene referred to a momentous ceremony such as the enthronement of a divine king.