Altar (asen)

African, Fon peoples, Republic of Benin
mid-19th to early 20th century


Object Place: Ouidah, Republic of Benin

Dimensions

160.02 x 43.18 cm (63 x 17 in.)

Accession Number

1992.400

Medium or Technique

Iron, iron oxide encrustation

On View

Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)

Collections

Africa and Oceania

Classifications

Raw materials and by-products

Forged iron staffs were placed in Fon family shrines as memorials to the dead. This example comes from Ouidah, an important coastal trading town. The platform tableau consists of a central figure with top hat and pipe, seated before a table arrayed with containers and flanked by sacrificial animals, French flags, and a cross. The central figure probably represents the special minister called Yovogan, who was named by King Guezo (1818-1858) to oversee foreigners and trading houses in Ouidah.

Provenance

January, 1989, collected in the Republic of Benin and acquired by Charles Davis, Davis Gallery, New Orleans; July, 1989, sold by Davis Gallery to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1992, gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 30, 1992)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel