possibly mid-1500s or early 1600s

Copper alloy and iron

Overall: 29.9 x 21.6 x 20.4 cm (11 3/4 x 8 1/2 x 8 1/16 in.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 1938.6

Fun Fact

The obas (kings) of the Benin Kingdom still wear coral headpieces and jewelry like this sculpted head depicts.


Metal arts flourished in the Benin kingdom from the 1400s to 1800s, until the British military sacked the Benin capital in 1897. This brass head depicts the divine Benin ruler cloaked in a headdress and collar of red coral beads. Such heads were ordered by a new king (oba) as centerpieces for the ancestral altar—an earthen platform—in honor of his deceased predecessor.

See also
African Art
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Credit line: 
Dudley P. Allen Fund

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