Arts of Africa
On View: African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
Portuguese explorers and traders arrived by sea in the kingdom of Benin in 1485. Representations of the Portuguese were quickly incorporated into the art of the royal court. They were invariably represented wearing sixteenth-century European dress, with long hair, flowing beards, and moustaches. These depictions symbolized the wealth that the obas (kings) of Benin derived from foreign trade. One of the chief commodities imported from Portugal was the copper from which the plaques were made.
16th or 17th century
19 13/16 x 15 9/16 x 2 1/2 in. (50.3 x 39.5 x 6.4 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos
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Plaque, 16th or 17th century. Copper alloy, 19 13/16 x 15 9/16 x 2 1/2 in. (50.3 x 39.5 x 6.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos, 56.6.74. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 56.6.74_PS2.jpg)
overall, 56.6.74_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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Full figure Portuguese warrior, holds mace, cap with 2 feathers, flowing hair, beard, wears skirt, sword, 3 rosettes in background, chased surface with floral motif, figure also shows elaborate surface treatment.
Condition: Extensive metal losses upper right corner, smaller one lower left corner.
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