Benin Bronze Sculpture of a Warrior King - FZ.197
Origin: Benin City, Nigeria
Circa: 1600 AD to 1897 AD
Dimensions: 15.5" (39.4cm) high x 4" (10.2cm) wide
Catalogue: V4
Collection: African
Style: Benin
Medium: Bronze

According to tradition the first inhabitants of Benin, the Beni, came directly from heaven. By the 15th Century A.D. the artists of Benin had created a style of art that was not only unique to African culture, but unique in the world. Highly specialized artisans were brought to Benin by the king (Oba), to produce exquisite bronzes to grace his palace. The Oba exercised absolute authority, both politically and in the religious context, being high priest of the state religion created to glorify his temporal rule. He was also extremely rich, holding a monopoly over many commercial activities. Fortunately for us the Oba, over the centuries, turned some of their riches into superb works of art.
This beautiful and delicately crafted sculpture depicts a warrior/king in ceremonial dress. Through the difficult medium of bronze the artist has shown the rich kingly attire, the intricate flowing rob and impressive crown. We know from reports of early European travelers that the Benin court was lavish in ceremony and etiquette. This king holds a knife, much like a scepter, as symbol of his rule. He inspires in us a sense of respect, not only for his power, but also for the extraordinary tradition he represents. Benin bronzes have a special radiance about them; a rarified light from centuries of expertise that allows us to see, and be part of, the magnificence of a vanished kingdom. - (FZ.197)




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