Head of an Oba
Arts of Africa
One of the first duties of a new Edo oba, or king, is to establish an altar to his father and commission artists to create objects to adorn it. The altar serves both as a tribute to the deceased oba and a point of contact with his spirit. This cast-brass head would have been placed on such an altar. Its red color and shiny surface make it both beautiful frightening, appropriate attributes for a powerful monarch. The high collar and beaded headpiece represent the coral-beaded costume worn by reigning obas.
Copper alloy, iron
"AF./2060" in white on back of head; "39.111" in red on back of head
Alfred W. Jenkins Fund
Until 1897, Benin Kingdom; 1897, taken from the Royal Palace during the British military raid and occupation of Benin City by an unidentified British agent; between 1897 and 1912, provenance not yet documented; by November 1912, acquired by William O. Oldman of London, United Kingdom; November 18, 1912, purchased from William O. Oldman by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA; 1939, transferred from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology to the Brooklyn Museum, by exchange.
Metal base for ivory tusk in the form of a head. Tall cylinder, the bottom half a collar of simulated beads from shoulders to lower lips; headdress covered with netting design. Top is open to hold tusk.
This item is not on view
Edo. Head of an Oba, 18th century. Copper alloy, iron, 11 1/4 × 7 7/8 in. (28.5 × 20 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Alfred W. Jenkins Fund, 39.111. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 39.111_overall_PS11.jpg)
overall, 39.111_overall_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2021
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