Pendant with a Queen Mother (Iyoba) playing a gong

Edo peoples, Benin kingdom, Nigeria
late 17th–early 18th century
Artist Unidentified


Length x width: 17.1 x 10.2 cm (6 3/4 x 4 in.)

Accession Number

L-G 7.5.2012

Medium or Technique


On View

Benin Kingdom Gallery (Gallery 172)


Africa and Oceania, Jewelry



This small ivory pendant appears to be unique. It depicts a queen mother (Iyoba), the mother of the reigning king, striking a double-gong as she might during a public celebration. She wears a high coral beaded crown, a beaded collar, crisscrossed beaded bandoliers, and a wrapped skirt possibly embroidered with beads and held in place by a knotted belt. There are similar pieces in bronze, depicting a woman with a musical instrument, but this piece is the only one known in ivory.


Early 20th century, taken from the Kingdom of Benin to England. 1961, Colonel Albert Horton, England; February 6, 1961, Colonel Horton sale, Sotheby’s, London, lot 152, sold for £ 880 to K. John Hewett (b. 1919 – d. 1994), London. 2012, promised gift of Robert Owen Lehman to the MFA.

Credit Line

Robert Owen Lehman Collection