head (male) wearing thick collar up to lower lip; openwork caplike headdress with hanging braids and beaded cords around ears; two "beads" on forehead; flower-like beaded elements at temples--one at PR ear, two at PL ear; open circle at top of head

Memorial head, 1550-1650

expand_more

Bronzeexpand_more

The John R. Van Derlip Fundexpand_more  2007.13

G250expand_more

Were they true to life, the high collar and netted hat of this royal memorial head would be a brilliant, beautiful red. They were made of coral beads imported from the Mediterranean Sea. And since the Benin king owned all the coral in his kingdom, its use in his outfit signified his far-reaching control of international trade. Each new Oba had a bronze head made to decorate the shrine honoring his deceased predecessor. The hole in the top of the head once held a carved elephant tusk—like the one in the case to your left—chronicling the exploits of the ancestor.

Details
Title
Memorial head
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2007.13
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

head (male) wearing thick collar up to lower lip; openwork caplike headdress with hanging braids and beaded cords around ears; two "beads" on forehead; flower-like beaded elements at temples--one at PR ear, two at PL ear; open circle at top of head