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Ancient Art from Africa - Benin
Benin Head
Thermolumineszenz - Expertise


Head of an Important Ibo Person

Benin, Nigeria
16th century
25 cm



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Head of an Important Ibo Person:

It is not known whom this head is meant to represent. In 1919, Luschan held it for a female head, based on the argument that such toric necklaces were worn only by female musicians. The latest research, however, indicates that this is the memorial head of a king.

Copies of this head - with coral head covering, a single pearl on the forehead, toric coral necklace and hanging pearl plaits - appeared frequently during the 16 th century. The gentle modelling of the soft and sensitive facial features is noteworthy in and of itself and especially in contrast with the much more diagrammatically rendered ears.

The realistic portrayal of the face is typical for Benin bronzes from the 16 th century and is usually seen as evidence of Ife influences. The question of who influenced whom and during what time period, however, has still not yet been adequately explored.

Felix von LUSCHAN: Die Altertümer von Benin, Band 1, Berlin 1919, S. 357.
Philip J. C. DARK: An introduction to Benin art and technology, Oxford 1973, S. 94.
Barbara PLANKENSTEINER (Hg.): Benin. Könige und Rituale. Höfische Kunst aus Nigeria, Wien 2007, S. 373.

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Auctions with similar objects:

Sotheby's New York. 1986. Kopf Benin-Kultur. Keine Altersangabe. Keine Angabe zur Provenienz. € 683.904,-

Auktionshaus Koller. 2005. Kopf Benin-Kultur. Benin 17.-18. Jh. € 423.060,-

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Similar objekts:  
Royal Scottish Museum
Philip J. C. DARK: An introduction to Benin art and technology, Oxford 1973, Tafel 23.
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Museum of Primitive Art, New York
William B. FAGG: Bildwerke aus Nigeria, München 1963, S. 42.
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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum
Felix von LUSCHAN: Die Altertümer von Benin, Band 3, Berlin 1919, Tafel 53, 56.
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The Metropolitan Museum, New York
Jacques KERCHACHE, Jean-Louis PAUDRAT, Lucien STEPHAN: Die Kunst des Schwarzen Afrika, Freiburg 1989, S. 170.
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General Pitt Rivers's Museum at Farnham, Dorset
Augustus Henry PITT-RIVERS: Antique Works of Art from Benin, London 1900 (Reprint 1971), S. 29.
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