Pair of Benin Bronze altar heads, Nigeria These... - Lot 24 - Arthema Auction

Lot 24
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Estimation :
4000 - 6000 EUR
Pair of Benin Bronze altar heads, Nigeria These... - Lot 24 - Arthema Auction
Pair of Benin Bronze altar heads, Nigeria These altar heads, created using the lost-wax technique, are highly detailed and patterned. The realistic figures feature facial scarification and numerous finely detailed ornaments. This pair of busts is beautifully symmetrical. Both figures are dressed in cross-body garb, with a collar bearing a bell. The horns themselves are covered with geometric motifs and sculpted faces. Atop each horn sits a soldier, helmet on head and weapon in fist. 107 x 25 cm 25 kg Beninese art is described as court art, as it is closely associated with the king, known as oba. The tradition of Ifè bronze court objects dates back to the 14th century. The many bronze heads and statues created by Beninese artists were reserved for the exclusive use of the inhabitants of the royal palace and, more often than not, placed on altars consecrated by each new oba, king of the ethnic group. These rectangular altars were surmounted by heads, statues, carved ivory tusks, bells and sticks. They were used to commemorate an oba and contact his spirit. Benin bronzes are undoubtedly among the most famous of Black African tribal art. Indeed, they have been in great demand in Western museums, particularly since the early 20th century. This period is not insignificant, as at the time, the British government was putting pressure on the oba for economic reasons. Following the assassination of a young British consul and his delegation, a punitive expedition led by Royal Navy Admiral Sir Harry Rawson pillaged, massacred and burned the town of Benin to the ground. The oba's royal treasure, consisting of some 2,500 pieces, was repatriated to Europe and scattered.
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