Galerie Peter Herrmann
Ancient Art from Africa
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Kopf Moro

Memorial Head of Moro Thermoluminescence-Report
Benin-City, Nigeria
19 cm


This is one of four small memorial heads found in the Obaseki shrine and then passed over to the private collection of a well-known Benin family. Oral tradition dates this object almost exactly to the year 1880, a date confirmed by TL analysis. The date a head was cast always depended on the Oba (in this case, Oba Adolo) because only he could place an order and issue a contract to the Igun Eronmwon caster guild. The figure was created in memory of a distinguished figure from Ife, known only as "Moro."

The gallery has been in possession of this small head since 1989. Even back then, Peter Herrmann suspected that at least some of the Ife bronzes actually originated in Benin and said as much. Today, this theory seems more and more likely and is supported by numerous studies, comparisons and analyses.

Stylistically, this head includes clear references to the early Ife heads, though it's smaller and not rendered with quite so much detail. The holes around the mouth and at the hairline, for example, are only suggested, not fully expressed; it may follow that the special purposes the early heads were meant to serve were no longer relevant by the time this head was made. If so, this head is much better understood as an object created in remembrance of a specific person and of the Ife-head tradition.

Links to the other three objects from the shrine of Obaseki
Iviovor Edion Edo Ife-Style-Head General Ekeghugu Ahnekpo

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