Copper alloy

Overall: 49.4 x 30.6 cm (19 7/16 x 12 1/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1953.425


Craftsmen modeled brass plaques like this in wax before casting them with hot metal. Molds pushed out figures’ general shapes, then details—such as this warrior’s staff and court sword (ẹbẹn)—were added by hand. Reflecting Benin’s global connections, the incised flowers may have Islamic or European origins. Called ebe-amẹn (river leaves) they are identified with Olókun, god of the waters. The interlaced side motifs may connect several early plaques also linked by topic and style. The palace plaques were in storage before the 1897 Siege of Benin. Recently, an art historian virtually reconstructed their former display in the palace based on their dimensions and imagery.

See also
African Art
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Copper alloy

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