Festivais Gil Vicente
Festas da Cidade e Gualterianas
Festivais Gil Vicente
Festas da Cidade e Gualterianas
Festivais Gil Vicente
Festas da Cidade e Gualterianas
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Head of a Queen
Benin Empire, Nigeria

Bronze

58 x 19 x 26 cm

Located in southern Nigeria, the Benin Empire founded in the 13th century was one of the largest powers in pre-colonial West Africa. The art of the court of Benin is characterised by the representation of its dignitaries with their ensigns and hieratic positions. The empire's golden age was the 16th century, which corresponds both to a period of territorial expansion and the peak reached by this art that benefited from the importation of large quantities of bronze through trade links established with the Europeans. This relationship is particularly documented in the pieces in bronze and ivory - noble and precious materials reserved for the arts of the court.


The title of Queen Mother was instituted in the early 16th century by King Esigie, in memory of his mother Queen Idia who was an experienced political advisor, thus establishing the tradition of placing these bronze heads on altars devoted to the ancestors. During the festivities marking the king's succession, the heir had the head of his predecessor cast in bronze.

Plankensteiner, Barbara (2008) Bénin - Cinq siécles d’art royal, Musée Quai Branly, Paris, p. 2; Bem-Amos, Paula (1979) L’Art du Bénin, Hong Kong, Rive Gauche Productions.
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