possibly mid-1500s or early 1600s
Copper alloy and iron
Overall: 29.9 x 21.6 x 20.4 cm (11 3/4 x 8 1/2 x 8 1/16 in.)
Dudley P. Allen Fund 1938.6
The obas (kings) of the Benin Kingdom still wear coral headpieces and jewelry like this sculpted head depicts.
Metal arts flourished in the Benin kingdom from the 1400s to 1800s, until the British military sacked the Benin capital in 1897. This brass head depicts the divine Benin ruler cloaked in a headdress and collar of red coral beads. Such heads were ordered by a new king (oba) as centerpieces for the ancestral altar—an earthen platform—in honor of his deceased predecessor.
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