Pair of Lions

Pair of Lions

c. 1940s

Part of a set. See all set records


Part 1: 36 x 53.4 x 17.8 cm (14 3/16 x 21 x 7 in.); Part 2: 36 x 59.8 x 21.6 cm (14 3/16 x 23 9/16 x 8 1/2 in.)

Gift of Mrs. Ralph M. Coe in memory of Ralph M. Coe 1965.323



In the style of the Donvidé school founded by Aqueminon Donvidé in 1909, this lion was created for the royal family at Abomey as well as for French colonial officials and foreign visitors. Rulers of the powerful Fon kingdom of Dahomey possessed objects that glorified their military might and spiritual power. Each object had visual symbols or crests recalling a praise or "strong name" of its owner. Powerful lions with full manes, symbolic of the 19th-century king Glele, were borrowed from European heraldry sources because no lions existed in this part of West Africa. Metaphorically, the lions alluded to Glele's victories over his enemies.

See also
African Art
African Art
Type of artwork: 

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