The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of March 3, 2024

Hand Coil

Hand Coil



While this looks like a bracelet, it wasn’t worn around a wrist. A chief or titleholder grasped this “hand coil” vertically during the annual Iguẹ festival, during which such men reaffirm their relationship to the Ọba, whose mystical powers are strengthened. An image of a man’s head caps each end of the thick, twisted metal. Repeated human touch rubbed the undecorated lengths bright and shiny. Though small, the coil’s detail is enormous: to capture it, the artist incised the designs in wax during the casting process. They show these men are elites, with necklaces, caps, and whisker-like facial markings.
  • 1800s
    Commissioned from the Igun Eronmwon, Benin Kingdom
    (Reportedly, Lehmann Bernheimer, Munich, Germany)
    before 1968, date unclear
    Mrs. Wilbur (Katherine) W. Merkel, Gates Mills, OH
    by at least 1968–1975
    Katherine C. White [1929-1980], Gates Mills, OH, given to the Cleveland Museum of Art
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Fagg, William Buller. African Tribal Images;the Katherine White Reswick Collection. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1968, no. 147. no. 147
    Digital Benin, Markk Museum Am Rothenbaum Kulturen und Kunste der Welt, (Last Updated: 2021-02-13) ID 148196
  • {{cite web|title=Hand Coil|url=false|author=|year=1800s|access-date=03 March 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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