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Benin Art And Architecture - Culture - Nairaland

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Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 6:50am On Jan 09, 2011


Benin hip mask cast in the form of a ram's head, with four loops on the reverse for attachment, the
snout encircled by a fan composed of ridges terminating in nine stylized pendant mudfish, and the
head with wideset oval eyes framing the snout inset with a strip of copper beneath ornately cast
horns and lanceolate ears, a row of bells pendant below; fine aged patina. height 8 1/2 in.

Provenance:
Julius Carlebach, New York
Jack Passer, New York

Exhibited:
Washington, D. C., The Language of African Art, Museum for African Art guest exhibtion at the
Smithsonian Institution, 24 May-7 September 1970

Published:
Museum for African Art, The Language of African, Washington, D.C., 1970: number 292

1 Like

Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 6:51am On Jan 09, 2011


A Benin hip mask of a human face thinly cast, and modelled in high relief, the face encircled by a
beard composed of numerous stylized mudfish and a row of loops for suspension, the face with
full protruding lips, a wide nose and prominent eyes inset with metal, and wearing a reticulated
headdress composed of numerous cast coral beads; fine varied aged patina. height 7 1/4 in.
Published:
Museum of African Art, The Language of African Art, 24 May-7 September 1970
Exhibited:
Washington, D. C., The Language of African Art, Museum of African Art, 1970: number 293

2 Likes

Re: Benin Art And Architecture by Akhenaten: 6:52am On Jan 09, 2011
Are we competing my brother? I am glad to see the showcase of cultures though. It is time for us to show the beauty of Nigeria's different cultures.

I was going to create a thread concerning the Benin Bronzes, but it would seem that you beat me to the punch. You must be a descendant of that illustrious kingdom.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 6:52am On Jan 09, 2011


Benin bronze hip mask of a leopard face
18th Century
The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
Leon A. Salinger Bequest Fund, 76.8
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 6:57am On Jan 09, 2011
Akhenaten:

Are we competing my brother? I am glad to see the showcase of cultures though. It is time for us to show the beauty of Nigeria's different cultures.

I was going to create a thread concerning the Benin Bronzes, but it would seem that you beat me to the punch. You must be a descendant of that illustrious kingdom.

Lol,  grin, No we're not competing, I had meant to make a thread like this for a while and have a few hundred pictures on this particular subject, but your post spurred me to get off my butt and actually do something. And yeah, I am a Bini. There are many other art threads that you could tackle though, Ife bronzes, Igbo-Ukwu bronzes, Jebba bronzes, Nok terracottas (incidentally, I found an AMAZING website, with a lot of great Nok pictures most people may not have seen:  http://memoiredafrique.com/en/nok/galerie-amis.php), Akwa Ibom or Cross river monoliths, and more, and of course you should definitely contribute to this thread.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:13am On Jan 09, 2011





Title: Benin Kingdom people, Nigeria, mask (Stanley:572)
Group: Benin Kingdom
Number: 572
Country: Nigeria
Type: mask
Material: brass
Size: h 7.25"
Artist Region: Edo
Traditional Name: uhunmwun
Function: governance
Function Detail: royal regalia
Style: Guinea Coast
Substyle: Eastern Guinea Coast

Museum credit: The Stanley Collection of African Art at The University of Iowa Museum of Art
Photo credit: photo by Ecco Hart

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Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:13am On Jan 09, 2011

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Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:14am On Jan 09, 2011

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Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:14am On Jan 09, 2011

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Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:15am On Jan 09, 2011





Pendant Mask: Iyoba, 16th century
Nigeria; Edo peoples, court of Benin
Ivory, iron, copper (?); H. 9 3/8 in.
(23.8 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial
Collection, Gift of Nelson A.
Rockefeller, 1972 (1978.412.323)

1 Like

Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:15am On Jan 09, 2011


Benin, Queen Mother (Iyoba) c1550
Hip Mask 9" ivory, iron, copper

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Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:19am On Jan 09, 2011
The Ogiso Period

Ogiso ("Rulers of the Sky"wink, who may have numbered as many as thirty-one kings, ruling the kingdom of Benin between 900 - 1170 AD, which is the earliest period so far accounted for in Benin history (Plankensteine 2007).

The first ruler, according to Benin traditions, was Igodo, a prominent elder in his community (Odionwere) who exercised authority over all other elders (Edionwere). Igodo is said to have ruled all the various small communities which collectively formed the kingdom known as 'Igodomigodo', meaning 'land of Igodo' or 'town of towns'. The most prominent among the known Ogiso rulers are Igodo, Ere, Orire, Oriagba and Owodo. The kingdom began as a union of juxtaposed clusters of independent communities, each surrounded by a moat (Egharevba 1968).

Fortification of Benin City

The defensive fortification of Benin City, the capital, consisted of ramparts and moats, call iya, enclosing a 4000 square kilometer (2485.5 miles) of community lands. In total, the Benin wall system encompasses over 10,000 kilometres (6213.7 miles) of earth boundaries. Patrick Darling, an archaeologist, estimates that the complex was built between 800 and 1000 up to the late fifteenth century (Keys 1994: 16). Advantageously situated, the moats were duged in such a manner that earthen banks provided outer walls that complemented deep ditches. According to Graham Connah, the ditch formed an integral part of the intended barrier but was also a quarry for the material to construct the wall or bank (Keys 1994: 594). The ramparts range in size from shallow traces to the immense 20-meter-high rampart (66 feet) around Benin City (Wesler 1998: 144). The Guinness Book of World Records describes the walls of Benin City as the world's second largest man-made structure after China's Great Wall), in terms of length, and the series of earthen ramparts as the most extensive earthwork in the world.

During the second half of the 15th century, Oba Ewuare the Great ordered a moat to be dug in the heart of the city. The earthworks served as a bastion and also afforded control of access to the capital which had nine gates that were shut at night. Travel notes of European visitors also described the Benin walls (e.g. Pacheco Pereira 1956: 130-147; Dapper 1668). It was finalized around 1460, at that time being the world's largest earthwork.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:21am On Jan 09, 2011


Benin City

Seventeenth-century engraving illustrating a court ceremony. In the foreground is the king of Benin on horseback, surrounded by musicians, dwarfs, and attendants with tame leopards, and leading a procession of chiefs and warriors, also on horseback. The middle ground shows the royal palace, which has high turrents surmounted by large cast-brass birds with outstretched wings. In the background, separated by a wall, is the town of Benin. Presided over by the oba, or king, the city was both a major trading center and the religious and political capital of the Edo people.

From Olfert Dapper, Beschreibung von Afrika (1967: pl. opp. 486), first published in Amsterdam in 1670.





Dapper, Olfert. Naukeurige Beschrijvinge der Afrikaensche gewesten. Amsterdam: Jacob von Meurs, 1668:

"The King's court is certainly as large as the town of Haarlem, and is entirely surrounded by a special wall. . . . It is divided into many magnificent palaces, houses, and apartments of the courtiers. Fine galleries, about as large as those on the Exchange at Amsterdam, are supported by wooden pillars, from top to bottom covered with cast copper on which are engraved the pictures of their war exploits and battles, and they are kept very clean."



Photo from: "De Stadt Benin." In Olfert Dapper's Beschreibung von Afrika. (Amsterdam, 1670)





View of Benin city in 1891 before the British conquest. H. Ling Roth, Great Benin, Barnes and Noble reprint. 1968.

Image from the book African Cities and Towns Before the European Conquest, by Richard W. Hull, published in 1976
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:25am On Jan 09, 2011
From a pretty interesting facebook group: "THE IMPERIAL ARCHITECTURE OF GREAT BENIN" by Enosakhare Idubor:



Note the roof.








"A rare picture of the Pyramidal roofing style that was unique to Great Benin Architecture.Please note the bird on top of the roof and the snake.

A 17th century Dutch explorer described the Benin palace as a collection of buildings, which would be as vast as the town of Haarlem.


To a certain extent, one can envisage the architecture of Benin's palace on the basis of descriptions provided by Dutchman Olfter Dapper (1635-1689); accordingly, the scene depicted here can be reasonably interpreted as the gateway to the Oba's palace. Dapper's descriptions, for example, mention a tower crowned with bronze-cast bird and snake. Such towers were used to mark the entrance to the palace or the passageways from one courtyard to the next. The roof is not, however, decorated with palm leaves as Dapper describes, but rather with wood shingles.

It is supported by pillars engraved with decorative faces, and the bird that tops it is an attribute typical for this motif. It is usually seen as an ibis, though sometimes as a thrush, and it has special meaning in Benin's culture as a soothsaying and prophesising bird.
The two armed palace guards on the steps wear aprons and tall coral collars, which designate them as high-ranking members of royal court society. The two other attendants are unclothed but for a small coral necklace and a handheld fan. Above the roof, a four-leafes motif dominates the background. This motif appears very often on bronze plaques from Benin and is associated with Olokun, god of the water.




Benin palace, southern Nigeria, 1668; the bird and the snake as ornamentation –›

Although wood was not used for ordinary buildings, some nails found in the palace allow the possibility that wooden shingles used to cover the building. However other sources claim that palm leaves were the covering material. The same impluvium system was built and water was collected and stored in underground tanks.

In African architecture, ornamentation was a constant feature, which allowed impressing the outsider, but also promoting the morale, pride and solidarity of one people. Architectural decorations were passing on through generations, and evolving towards "purified" motifs every time. One technique was the carving of walls, creating visible contrasted patterns in the strong sunlight. Painting usually used colours such as black, red, white and ochre. Pressing natural objects (pebbles or pieces of mica) into the wet clay was also common. In some palaces, pillars were often covered with bronze plaques illustrated with victories and deeds of the former obas. Bronze birds and snakes used to ornate the high towers, the bird presumably protecting against lightning, and the snake representing the power of the oba.


AHIANMWEN ORO (ORO BIRD)

The bird on the famous roofing is the Oro Bird(Ahianmwen Oro)It was introduced by Esigie(1504 A.D-Egharevba)after the defeat of the Idah army as part of the Ugioro which was started by Ewedo in commemoration of affluence.Ugioro itself has been in existence since 1255;but it was Esigie who cast the bird in bronze some 250 years later and installed it on the roof of the palace.

Okorho Iro Eweka

IKPINAME-the sea deity( BOA CONSTRICTOR)

The Snake that meanders on top of the roof must be IKPINAME-the sea deity introduced by Ozolua(1481A.D.)In the Edo language,IKPIN is the name of BOA CONSTRICTOR,which is the largest snake known to the Edo people.One of the kings titles is IKPINAME NE-IWAME NO'KHURHU.That indicates the king's divinity and his custodianship of Justice and Honesty:IKPINAME drinks only clean water,not dirty or muddy one.

Okorho Iro Eweka



To a certain extent, one can envisage the architecture of Benin's palace on the basis of descriptions provided by Dutchman Olfter Dapper (1635-1689); accordingly, the scene depicted here can be reasonably interpreted as the gateway to the Oba's palace. Dapper's descriptions, for example, mention a tower crowned with bronze-cast bird and snake. Such towers were used to mark the entrance to the palace or the passageways from one courtyard to the next. The roof is not, however, decorated with palm leaves as Dapper describes, but rather with wood shingles."
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:29am On Jan 09, 2011



House of a chief (modern)

1 Like

Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:36am On Jan 09, 2011
PhysicsHD:



Benin hip mask cast in the form of a ram's head, with four loops on the reverse for attachment, the
snout encircled by a fan composed of ridges terminating in nine stylized pendant mudfish, and the
head with wideset oval eyes framing the snout inset with a strip of copper beneath ornately cast
horns and lanceolate ears, a row of bells pendant below; fine aged patina. height 8 1/2 in.

Provenance:
Julius Carlebach, New York
Jack Passer, New York

Exhibited:
Washington, D. C., The Language of African Art, Museum for African Art guest exhibtion at the
Smithsonian Institution, 24 May-7 September 1970

Published:
Museum for African Art, The Language of African, Washington, D.C., 1970: number 292


Looking at this picture again, I see why some people make those ancient Egyptian claims. There are certainly rams in Nigeria though, so a foreign influence is not needed.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by Akhenaten: 7:36am On Jan 09, 2011
I have always been an admirer of the Benin Empire. The architecture, the works of art, the structure of government etc. However, I have one question.

Why isn't the Bini population as large as the Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa? You all had a thriving empire, but why isn't the population as large as the other groups. Especially compared with the Igbo, who didn't have such a large state.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsHD: 7:41am On Jan 09, 2011


















Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:12am On Jan 09, 2011

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Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:12am On Jan 09, 2011
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:13am On Jan 09, 2011


A Benin warrior wearing a protective helmet, with a long spear and shield, battle ready for military operations. Source: Kate Ezra, Royal Art of Benin: The Pearls Collection in The Museum of Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1992, p. 137.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:14am On Jan 09, 2011



Bronze Benin warrior wears trousers under a sort of pleated kilt and a basketry cap, is armed with a flintlock musket and short sword or dagger, and a trophy head at his feet. Source: Bryna Freyer, Royal Benin Art in the Collection, 1987, p. 55.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:16am On Jan 09, 2011
[img]http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/images/standard/Exhib/EX_000001/96460_520265.jpg[/img]


Edo
Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
Plaque of a Palace Interior, 16th/17th century

This plaque beautifully illustrates details of the oba’s palace, including its wood roof shingles attached with nails; a brass snake, cast in sections, running down its turret; and the pillars lined with pairs of brass plaques, each portrayed here as depicting a Portuguese face. The scene may represent a gate of entry or a passage between inner courtyards. Turrets are known to have marked such transitional points within the large palace complex. However, the leopards (now damaged) that stand on either side of the doorway may indicate that it is the entrance to a royal altar.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:17am On Jan 09, 2011
[img]http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/images/standard/Exhib/EX_000001/103668_541468.jpg[/img]

Edo
Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
Plaque of Oba Esigie on Horseback with Attendants, 16th/17th century

Brass
48 x 39 cm (18 7/8 x 15 3/8 in.)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum, III C 8056


Capitalizing on the influx of brass that came with coastal trade, Oba Esigie increased his patronage of the royal guild of brass casters (igun eronmwon) and commissioned plaques to decorate his palace, many of which commemorate specific people and events. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the oba and the highest-ranking members of his court rode horses in warfare and during ritual processions. Here, an oba is portrayed riding sidesaddle in a stately procession. Young servants support his arms and higher-ranking officials shield his head. The oba is almost certainly Esigie, who is called “the ruler on horseback.”
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:21am On Jan 09, 2011
[img]http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/images/standard/Exhib/EX_000001/96458_520261.jpg[/img]

Battle Master (active 16th/17th century)
Edo
Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
Plaque of a Battle Scene, Possibly the Idah War, 16th/17th century


Brass
55 x 39 cm (21 5/8 x 15 3/8 in.)
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, 1899.75

In the corpus of known works from the Benin Kingdom, the six plaques that depict battle scenes are among the most complex and accomplished. In this example, a high-ranking Edo warrior—the largest figure in the composition—has slashed and mortally wounded a soldier on horseback, probably the leader of the opposing army. At upper left, a second Edo warrior has injured and captured another combatant, and, at the far right, an Edo soldier holds the severed head of a rival. The taking of trophy heads in battle was a feature of Edo warfare.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:22am On Jan 09, 2011
[img]http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/images/standard/Exhib/EX_000001/93744_520203.jpg[/img]

Edo
Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
Plaque of Oba Ozolua with Warriors and Attendants, 16th/17th century

Brass
38.5 x 39 x 2 cm (15 1/8 x 15 3/8 x 4/5 in.)
Museum für Völkerkunde Wien, 64.717

Oba Ozolua, at center, is depicted wearing a garment of overlapping leaf- or feather-shaped plates, possibly an alternative interpretation of his protective coat of iron. Snakes—which Olokun, the god of the waters, sent to guard the divine leader—run down the garment’s torso and arms. In his right hand, Ozolua holds an eben sword, a symbol of leadership. In his left hand, he grasps a spear that is also held by his trusted friend Laisolobi, who ultimately betrayed him in order to free his exhausted soldiers. This story teaches that the abuse of power can be the downfall of even the strongest and most influential leaders.



[Edit: As a caveat, I should point out that since the Benin bronzes, ivories, and terracotta were taken from external, above-ground places, rather than dug up archaeologically, none of them are actually accurately radiocarbon dated. Thermoluminescence dating of the Benin artwork has given dates for some pieces that are earlier or later than the estimates ascribed to them by art historians, but thermoluminescence dating results are not usually preferred as authoritative. The rationale for dating most of the Benin artwork to the dates usually ascribed to them is given on most books on the art.]
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:23am On Jan 09, 2011
[img]http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/images/standard/Exhib/EX_000001/103483_540591.jpg[/img]

Edo
Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
Plaque of an Oba or Warrior with Attendants, Mid-16th/17th century

Copper alloy
45.6 x 35 x 8.9 cm (17 15/16 x 13 3/4 x 3 1/2 in.)
National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, purchased with funds provided by the Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program
Photograph by Franko Khoury, 82-5-3

An elite entourage—including an eben sword carrier, a side-blown horn player, and a sword bearer (the sword now missing)—accompany the oba or high-ranking war chief that is the central figure on this plaque. The man is dressed in grand ceremonial attire with a coralcrown, high collar, arm cuffs, and anklets; a tasseled leopard-face tunic; and a warrior’s leopard-tooth necklace and bell. It is likely that the plaque depicts the Isiokuo festival, which featured a parade showcasing Benin’s military strength.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:24am On Jan 09, 2011
[img]http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/images/standard/Exhib/EX_000001/103184_539150.jpg[/img]

Edo
Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
Altar Head of an Iyoba (Uhunmwun Elao), 16th century


Brass
H. 51 cm (20 1/8 in.)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum, III C 12507


In the early 16th century, Oba Esigie initiated the title of iyoba, or queenmother, to honor his mother, Idia. This exquisitely rendered head is believed to commemorate an early iyoba. It is the work of a highly accomplished brass caster, who was a master of the idealized naturalism that marked the époque. The iyoba wears a netted coral cap over her “chicken’s beak” hairstyle. Iron inserts (now missing) at the brow express her strong will. Four fish embellish the base, suggesting the role of the sea god, Olokun, in bringing wealth and power to the kingdom.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:26am On Jan 09, 2011
[img]http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/images/standard/Exhib/EX_000001/93585_529085.jpg[/img]


Edo
Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
Pair of Leopards, 16th/18th century

Brass
left: 50 x 15 x 79 cm (19 5/8 x 31 1/8 x 5 7/8 in.); right: 49 x 14 x 77 cm (19 1/4 x 30 1/4 x 5 1/2 in.)
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria, 52.13.1-2


Leopards are among the most emblematic symbols of the oba. Respected for their beauty, intelligence, and predatory skills, they are considered the oba’s kingly counterpart in the wilderness. Emphasizing this connection, when an oba dies it is said “the leopard has returned to his lair.” Prior to the 20th century, the oba kept semi-domesticated leopards in the palace to demonstrate his mastery over an opposing realm. This exquisite pair may have stood on the altar of a deceased oba or may have been placed on either side of the oba’s throne. In Benin, such ritual pairing evokes the importance of spiritual balance.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:27am On Jan 09, 2011
[img]http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/images/standard/Exhib/EX_000001/93762_520233.jpg[/img]

Edo
Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
Oba Eresoyen's Stool, 18th century

Brass
40 x 40.5 cm (15 3/4 x 16 in.)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum, III C 20295

Through time Benin’s rulers have used the arts to interpret history in an effort to support their initiatives and define their images for posterity. In the 18th century, Oba Eresoyen purposefully associated his reign with that of Oba Esigie, the great 16th-century monarch. Both ruled during periods of relative peace and were important patrons of brass casting. This richly embellished stool is modeled on one that was sent to Esigie by the Portuguese. The stool’s complex iconography includes images of the cosmos, the forest, and terrifying supernatural forces. The tools and products of metal workers—including a hammer, knife, and anvil—represent human civilization.
Re: Benin Art And Architecture by PhysicsMHD(m): 8:30am On Jan 09, 2011
[img]http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/images/standard/Exhib/EX_000001/100221_519954.jpg[/img]


Edo
Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
Ewua Official, 18th century (?)

Brass
62 x 20 x 17 cm (24 3/8 x 7 7/8 x 6 11/16 in.)
© The Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland, A1985.631

This figure wears a beautifully patterned tunic and wrapper and a cross-shaped pendant low on his chest. In his right hand, he carries a brass-caster’s hammer, a tool used to manipulate red-hot metal. The man may be an ewua official, whose tasks include awakening the oba at dawn with rituals honoring his dynasty and its origins, a practice initiated by Oba Esigie in the 16th century. Ewua officials are often portrayed wearing a cross, a symbol that predates the Portuguese arrival in Benin, though its meaning was enhanced by its similarity to the cross of the Portuguese Order of Christ.

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